Thursday, December 17, 2020

Unemployed Americans face benefits delay under relief bill; states demand money back for mistaken benefit payments

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of the pandemic, but many are still getting inadequate unemployment benefits, and even if the bipartisan relief bill passes, they'll likely see a lag in payments.

The new bipartisan bill includes $300 in weekly unemployment benefits, but it could be weeks after the bill is signed before unemployed workers start seeing that money, The Washington Post reports.

The last relief bill, passed in March, included an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits though the end of July. Other measures added to that. The bill also created two programs to help unemployed independent contractors, both of which are set to end in December, Emily Stewart reports for Vox

"In designing these programs, Congress made a lot of assumptions about how the U.S. would handle the pandemic — mainly, that it would do a better job than it did of getting the virus under control so that people could get back to work," Stewart reports. "But nine months later, America still has 10 million fewer jobs than it did pre-pandemic, and as the coronavirus continues to spread, many places across the country are facing shutdowns once again, threatening further job losses."

Meanwhile, many states are demanding that recipients pay back thousands of dollars after mistakenly issuing too much in benefits, Ava Kofman reports for ProPublica. The new bill might stop that.

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