UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Unemployment benefits delay: how many people would get it late?

Despite beating the clock in renewing federal pandemic unemployment benefits as many as 2 million jobless could experience a disruption in payments.

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Unemployment benefits delay: how many people would get it late?
SPENCER PLATT AFP

Democrats were in a race against the clock to pass the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) before federal unemployment compensation programs renewed in December expired once again in March. Despite the speed with which they moved the legislation through Congress and over to the White House, beating the deadline, it was foreseeable that there might not be a seamless transition for all who were receiving jobless aid.

As many as 2 million people who are receiving the enhanced unemployment compensation could expect a delay in the continuation of their benefits. This is far lower than the number of workers who experienced delays after the previous extension when up to 5 million jobless aid beneficiaries experienced a disruption in benefits according to Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation speaking to the Washington Post.

How long will the delay in benefits be?

The delay is expected to be less as well this time, Stettner believes it will be perhaps two weeks for the majority. He told Business Insider that this is because there were no major changes to the flow of unemployment benefits in the new covid-19 relief law. This allows state labor offices stretched to the breaking point over the past year to more easily administer the new guidelines.

However, some states are in better shape than others. Due to the antiquated mainframes that state unemployment systems run on, some states have experienced considerable delays in the past. These outdated systems could not handle the sheer volume of claims that the pandemic induced layoffs caused to skyrocket. Some states are finally beginning to address the problem now.

What unemployment programs will be affected?

The ARPA extended a federal program to cover those who aren’t normally covered by state unemployment insurance. Through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which covers the self-employed, gig workers, part-timers and others who are not able to receive regular state unemployment benefits. As well workers that have been unemployed for longer than the normal 26 weeks that most states cover could get Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) to take over for state benefits.

The $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill also provided a $100 top-up per week on benefits for mixed earners whose income is a mix of self-employed, 1099 income, and wages paid by their employer, W-2 income. All those receiving unemployment benefits either from state unemployment compensation programs or the federal government programs also gets an extra $300 boost to their check each week.

All of the federal programs will run until 6 September when it is hoped that the US will have recovered the roughly 9 million jobs that are still missing from the pre-pandemic labor market.

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