Uncertainty Looms as Federal Unemployment Benefit Is Set to Expire

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For Carla Lissa, the process of getting unemployment benefits was not easy.  

“First it was denied because they could not verify my employer,” she said, even though she had worked for the same company for 18 years before being laid off in April.

She said that issue was eventually resolved, and it took about two months for her to see any money. On Thursday, Carla said she was still missing benefits for several weeks in June.  

She said she has called the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity dozens of times, trying to get answers, and that she was told there was a glitch impacting her claim.

“And they don’t have a timeframe of when it’s going to be fixed,” she said.

Adding to her concerns, was the very real possibility that Carla will soon see the $600 federal benefit she has been receiving disappear, if Congress allows it to expire by the end of the month.

“It’s not going to be OK,” she said when asked about how this could impact her family. “It’s horrible because we don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Congress is considering a second coronavirus relief package that could extend the enhanced federal benefit, though likely at a lower level. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the package being debated in the Senate would replace the $600 benefit with a lesser payment.

“We’re not going to pay people more to stay home than to work,” Mnuchin said.  “So, we’re looking at something that looks like 70% wage replacement and we’re working on the mechanics of that.”

Meanwhile, the uncertainty was difficult to deal with for people like Carla, who said she had already decided to sell her car to try to reduce costs.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said.  “I’m just going to have to get creative … start selling things from the house to cover the main expenses and ride it like that until I can go back to work.”

According to CNBC, the new benefit would likely be a flat, weekly payment of around $200 or $300 dollars if Congress approves the treasury secretary’s plan.

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