by Jason Alcott
Virology is keeping tens of millions of Americans from earning paychecks. But it is geography that will determine which laid-off workers receive their stimulus package unemployment checks first.
The unemployed who live in New York and Illinois are already getting their weekly supplemental $600 payments. But at the same time, other states are having problems that could translate into weeks worth of delays.
“A record number of Americans filed jobless claims, and the Federal Reserve is rolling out loan programs for local governments and midsize businesses,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “New Jersey, Louisiana and California plan to begin sending out the additional payments next week. Other states including Connecticut and Ohio, as well as Washington, D.C., are unsure when they will have their systems set up to process and disburse the checks.”
The need is fierce. “People who don’t make a lot of money can’t go a month without money,” Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, told the paper.
On Friday, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 17-20, which provides further guidance to states as they implement the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.
“The CARES Act provides valuable relief to American workers facing unemployment, including unemployed workers who may not otherwise be eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said. “The guidance issued to states today follows significant guidance and support the Department of Labor has already provided to our state partners, including $500 million in emergency administrative funding.”
Under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, states can provide up to 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to qualified individuals who:
– have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state law or Federal law with respect to a benefit year that ended on or after July 1, 2019;
– have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under any other state UC law or Federal UC law, or to compensation under any other Federal law;
– are not receiving compensation with respect to a week under the UC law of Canada; and
– are able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work, although states must offer flexibility on “actively seeking work” where there are COVID-19 impacts and constraints.
The cost of PEUC benefits is 100% federally funded. States may not charge employers for any PEUC benefits paid. Implementation costs and ongoing administrative costs are also 100% federally funded.