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The additional unemployment benefits offered by the American Rescue Plan may not arrive until mid-April or later, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Monday.
The $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief bill signed by President Joe Biden Thursday extended unemployment benefits through Labor Day and continued a $ 300 weekly benefit increase.
States will need several weeks to tweak their computer systems and take the changes into account, a labor department official said in a memo to state labor offices on Monday.
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“Given that states need time to modify their computer systems to accommodate the enhancements and modifications, the Department anticipates that many states will need time until mid-April or later to implement the new regulations and individuals too notify, “wrote Suzan LeVine, assistant principal assistant secretary at the Department of Labor and Education Administration.
Previous rounds of additional pandemic aid to the unemployed also took weeks – and sometimes months – to be paid out, depending on the state.
The $ 900 billion aid measure signed by former President Donald Trump in December extended long-term unemployment benefits until March 14. Others who have not reached their maximum allowance can continue to receive federal benefits until April 11.
It is unclear whether the Department of Labor believes a delay will apply to all or part of the provisions of the US bailout plan. A spokesman for the Ministry of Labor did not return a request for clarification.
2 million workers
Past experience shows that delays are more likely with certain programs than others, said Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation.
For example, many states were able to immediately issue a weekly $ 300 weekly surcharge from the $ 900 billion pandemic relief package, Stettner said. That will likely be the case with the American bailout plan, he said.
However, it took many states several weeks to resume benefits for those who had run out of maximum allotment at the time the Trump Continued Assistance Act was signed. At least one state, Wisconsin, has not yet provided this expanded assistance to some workers.
Similar delays could occur in the American bailout plan for those whose benefits expired on March 14, Stettner said. He estimates that around 2 million people fall into this category.
Of course, workers can only get the $ 300 per week supplement if they are receiving unemployment benefits. Delaying the extended benefits through programs like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance would also mean a delay in the $ 300 boost.
However, a performance gap will not be the case for all employees and in all states, said Stettner.
For example, Colorado officials estimated that most workers would receive additional benefits without delay.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment received approval from the U.S. Department of Labor to deploy the expanded programs before official advice from the federal agency, the state said Thursday.
The approval meant Colorado could begin reprogramming its computer system before it received the official instructions that the Department of Labor released Monday.
“We are grateful that Congress took the necessary steps before the current programs expire and saved hundreds of thousands of Coloradans from the financial hardship and payment gap we saw earlier this year due to a delay in federal action,” said Joe Barela. Executive Director of Colorado’s Employment Agency.