The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was rushed through Congress by Democrats this month, in part so that people living on unemployment benefits wouldn’t suffer a break in federal weekly payments when the previous round of unemployment benefits expired in mid-March. But that’s exactly what’s happening. Here’s the latest update as we head into the weekend:
Why are payments delayed?
Computers! States are arranging the new payments. It’s a complex aid program involving billions of dollars and a maze of acronyms: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) provides unemployment recipients an extra $300; three other programs—the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA), the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), and the Mixed Earner supplement (MEUC, for people who earn both W-2 and 1099 income)—were also expanded.
FPUC is particularly prone to delays due to the required federal-and-state interactions. This week the U.S. Department of Labor said that “many states will need until the middle of April or later to implement the new provisions and begin notifying individuals,” acknowledging that “states need time to modify their computer systems.” But all four programs are facing major issues in different states: In California, for example, 800,000 people may experience PEUC delays through April, and 1.4 million PUA recipients can’t certify for the program until April 10.
Who is delayed?
Recipients in most states. As of this week, only a dozen states clustered on each coast and Texas had begun distributing the extra $300. (Yahoo has a map here.)
What’s up with my state?
Visit your state’s department of labor for the latest information, and check the chart here. You can also do a Google News search of “[your state] unemployment delays.”
How long will the delay be?
The last time around, when previous expirations in federal aid were rebooted by a bill signed by President Trump on December 27, 38% of unemployment payments were delayed in January, according to an analysis by the Century Foundation, which reported that payments had begun to catch up by the fourth week of that month.
But I’ll eventually get paid for all weeks, right?
Correct. Most unemployment benefits are extended from March 14 through September 6. Check the fine print here to make sure that you qualify.
Is there anything I can do?
This level of government aid to individuals is unheard of in America, and sadly, it isn’t fast. But it’s coming. Hang in there.