Unemployment assistance is going to expire Dec. 26 if a federal stimulus bill in Congress does not pass soon. That will place unemployed Nevadans in an even more grim situation — their assistance ceases, state officials said today.
“As a result of Congress taking months to negotiate a deal, and the President now threatening a veto, Nevada families are about to face unbelievable hardship as their unemployment benefits stop on Saturday,” said Barbara Buckley, leader of the state’s unemployment task force. “Families are in a terrible position; our economy is still reeling from this pandemic; businesses are suffering and have not yet been able to rehire their employees.
“We urge Congress and the President to think about the families about to lose their homes and their ability to support their children and resolve this crisis.”
The state’s unemployment system has not been able to handle the millions of claims being filed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“We literally have had 1.2 million initial claims for unemployment in Nevada,” said Elisa Cafferata (as reported by the Nevada Current), who has been head of the state’s unemployment department since September and is the department’s third director since March. “The workforce is 1.5 million workers. So, that gives you a sense of the magnitude of work (and) the (numbers of) claims that are not going to be eligible to be paid.”
The state issued the following statement today to the news media:
If the bill is not signed, the following benefit programs end as of 12/26/20: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and the State Extended Benefits (SEB) 7-week extension. The Unemployment Insurance (UI) program which consists of 26 weeks plus an SEB extension of 13 weeks will continue.
DETR will process all PUA claims filed this year and PUA claimants will be paid retroactively if they are eligible. Unprocessed UI claims (backlog) will be processed, and eligible UI claimants will still receive backdated PEUC/SEB benefits.
If HR 133 is not signed, Nevada must end the programs listed above.DETR has the system programming in place to comply with this federal stop which could result in an estimated 199,322 claimants (from the varied federal benefit programs) losing benefits should the bill not be signed.
“As a State, we are being forced during the holidays to stop benefits for nearly 200,000 Nevadans because Congress and the President did not act in time.In addition to unemployment benefits, other critical services will be held up: help with emergency food assistance, emergency rental assistance, another round of small business grants and loans, efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless while we, as Nevadans, are working as hard as we can to prevent devastating outcomes for families,” said DETR Director, Elisa Cafferata.
If the bill is signed, eligible Nevadans will be able to continue to apply for benefits in several programs:
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): additional weeks of federally funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment UI benefits. HR 133 increases the weeks of PEUC benefits an individual may claim, from 13 to 24.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): which provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. HR 133 allows claimants to file for PUA benefits from the date the bill is enacted through March 14, 2021.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): HR 133 provides an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits, starting after December 26, 2020 and ending March 14, 2021.
If the bill does become law, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has advised the State that it will issue guidance regarding program implementation requirements.DOL estimates that it will take approximately two weeks to issue that guidance. Once that guidance is received, the agency would review the information and take steps to implement the programs per DOL requirements.
DETR is prepared if HR 133 passes, is delayed, or does not pass.This federal assistance is critical.Thousands of Nevadans will be adversely impacted if the bill is not passed or if it is delayed.