State Provides Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Posted December 28, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Con­tributed Pho­to. Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

By Gov­er­nor Inslee’s Office

On Dec. 27, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state will pro­vide fund­ing for almost 100,000 Wash­ing­to­ni­ans who will lose fed­er­al Pan­dem­ic Unem­ploy­ment Assis­tance ben­e­fits fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s refusal to act on the fed­er­al coro­n­avirus relief package.

The pres­i­dent had until mid­night on Dec. 26 to sign the sweep­ing relief bill to avert a lapse in PUA ben­e­fits. How­ev­er, hours after Inslee’s announce­ment, Trump signed the relief package.

PUA is a fed­er­al pro­gram that was includ­ed in the Coro­n­avirus Aid, Relief and Eco­nom­ic Secu­ri­ty Act. The pro­gram pro­vides sup­port for Amer­i­cans who are unable to work due to the Coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic but do not qual­i­fy for tra­di­tion­al Unem­ploy­ment Insurance.

“We are pro­vid­ing a bridge for some Wash­ing­to­ni­ans until the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment final­ly acts. It is extreme­ly unfor­tu­nate that the pres­i­dent has missed the dead­line and allowed much-need­ed unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits to lapse for strug­gling work­ers and fam­i­lies. The relief bill was nego­ti­at­ed by his own admin­is­tra­tion, sup­port­ed by both Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats, and passed with over­whelm­ing majori­ties in the House and Sen­ate. His last-minute demands can and should be dealt with sep­a­rate­ly, but instead, the pres­i­dent has cho­sen to hold the entire relief pack­age hostage.

“In our state, we pre­pared for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a lapse in ben­e­fits, and in antic­i­pat­ing it, we devel­oped a plan for a one-time pay­ment for those who have been receiv­ing PUA ben­e­fits. Because we estab­lished a state back­up plan, we can take action today to help some of those harmed by the president’s decision.

“I am announc­ing that Wash­ing­ton state will pro­vide $54 mil­lion to extend a one-time Pan­dem­ic Relief Pay­ment to 94,555 peo­ple in our state who have been claim­ing PUA and will be imme­di­ate­ly impact­ed by the lapse in fed­er­al ben­e­fits. The Employ­ment Secu­ri­ty Depart­ment will be issu­ing this state ben­e­fit lat­er this week. This does not solve all the prob­lems caused by the president’s inac­tion — we are doing what we can, but we sim­ply do not have the abil­i­ty to replace all of the unem­ploy­ment sup­ports in the relief pack­age. How­ev­er, for some peo­ple in our state who have been receiv­ing PUA ben­e­fits, this will pre­vent an imme­di­ate loss of assis­tance at a time when they are most in need.

“Fam­i­lies and busi­ness­es will face dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences if the pres­i­dent con­tin­ues to block the bipar­ti­san pack­age. Hope­ful­ly, he does the right thing and ulti­mate­ly signs the bill. But, even if the leg­is­la­tion is signed in the days ahead, thou­sands of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans will lose at least a week of pan­dem­ic unem­ploy­ment assis­tance — and that is unac­cept­able to me.”

This emer­gency pay­ment will be issued by the Wash­ing­ton State Employ­ment Secu­ri­ty Depart­ment to all PUA claimants who were in active sta­tus the week end­ing Nov. 21 and will total $550 per claimant, which equates to rough­ly two weeks of ben­e­fits for most PUA recip­i­ents. If signed, the fed­er­al relief pack­age would extend fed­er­al PUA ben­e­fits through March 14, 2021.

The PUA pro­gram pro­vides fed­er­al unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits for those not eli­gi­ble for reg­u­lar Unem­ploy­ment Insur­ance, such as inde­pen­dent con­trac­tors and self-employed workers.

ESD will have more infor­ma­tion on their web­page at https://esd.wa.gov/.

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Categories: Employment, Government

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