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How to Get Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

During the recession, many people who had been out of work could get help with the cost of living. However, in some cases, these programs proved unaffordable for the person receiving the assistance. Luckily, there are still a few ways to obtain your needed aid.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program must meet the eligibility criteria in the CARES Act. The program provides temporary benefits to workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law.

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to eligible workers. During this period, qualified workers are provided an additional $600 per week through July 25, 2020.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program benefits self-employed, independent contractors, and non-traditional workers. The program was created to help mitigate labor income risk for marginally attached workers. However, advocates have argued that the benefits should include more low-income workers.

The program also extends unemployment benefits to self-employed workers who cannot work. The benefits are entirely federally funded. It is important to note that independent contractors must be unemployed or partially unemployed and have reportable earnings. The number of benefits that an individual receives may be reduced if the worker uses paid leave.

Overpayments

During the pandemic, the unemployment insurance system provided a lifeline to millions of workers. However, the process for processing claims was complicated, and states had to adapt. This resulted in many overpayments.

There are two types of overpayments. There are overpayments from the federal government and overpayments from states. Both can be challenged. If a claimant received an overpayment, they could file a claim with the consumer credit bureau to have it removed.

Some states are implementing changes to waive overpayments for legitimate reasons. This includes cases where the claimant made a mistake in applying. It’s essential to understand how to navigate this process.

There are two types of overpayments: fraudulent and nonfraudulent. The fraudulent overpayments cannot be waived, but the nonfraudulent ones can.

Some overpayments are the result of simple mistakes. For example, a claimant may have omitted information from their application, which caused them to receive a higher benefit than they were entitled to. Or, they may have submitted false information, which would not be acceptable under a waiver.

Disparities by race and ethnicity

Increasingly effective economic security programs have reduced the disparities in poverty among all major racial groups. However, several factors still prevent some people from benefiting from these programs. One of the most significant is racial discrimination. This has prevented many communities of color from participating in the economic growth that benefits the nation.

In the past year, about 36 percent of Black New Yorkers and 45 percent of Latinx New Yorkers experienced some food-related hardship. These are the type of disparities that may be avoided if these communities are included in the pandemic’s ladder of economic opportunity.

However, these programs have not eliminated the disparities that have persisted for decades. As a result, they may need to be modified or supplemented with more robust efforts by the federal government. In particular, structural changes are required in order to eliminate disparities in unemployment rates.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) is a supplementary $600 in federal unemployment benefits. It is scheduled to expire nationwide this week. Its continuation will be especially crucial to New Yorkers of color. The FPUC will help them meet their living expenses, including rent.

Recommendations

Originally passed as part of the CARES Act, the program provides financial assistance to affected workers. The Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUA) program is a last-resort extension to traditional unemployment insurance benefits. It will provide up to $600 per week for a limited period. This is intended to address short-term unemployment in a particular Coronavirus situation.

The GAO continues to find value in the PUA analysis and advises Congress on future options for contingent workers. In addition, labor organizations have called on Congress to include federal and state policies in the next reconciliation package. This would consist of automatic stabilizers like the unemployment rate and would cover more workers. The Biden administration has also called on states to use emergency funds to provide additional benefits to unemployed workers.

The federal government implemented the most significant expansion in eligibility for federal unemployment benefits. However, there is still a long way to go before all workers losing their jobs are covered. Millions of Americans are still filing first-time unemployment claims every week.

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