Many collecting unemployment are starting to get concerned. For most people, the extra $600 a week in federal pandemic benefits will run out in just four weeks, on either July 25 or 26.
Millions of unemployed Americans have been kept afloat by that extra $600 a week, which supplements $200 or $300 in state benefits.
But some people still waiting for their first check worry they will never see a dime.
Ashley Duncan was laid off from her job assisting disabled children when the pandemic began. Worse, her application for unemployment benefits was rejected because it did not meet the income threshold.
"They said I made insufficient funds last year, " she said, even though she worked in two different states and said half her income was not counted as a result.
Trying to explain her unique situation to a human proved impossible.
"I waited seven hours on the phone, and then they hung up on me," she said.
Now Duncan worries she may miss the $600 a week from the federal CARES Act before she straightens out her claim and starts getting unemployment.
Mely Positiva, who paints houses for a living, has also lost work this spring and could use some extra federal benefits.
"We have a family to support, and for the last three months, it was very hard," Positiva said.
What could replace the $600 bonus payment
Marketwatch.com recently listed three proposals on the table to replace the ending federal benefits.
- Some Democrats have proposed the "HEROES Act," a bill that would extend the $600 a week through year's end.
- A second proposal would continue the $600 payments until each state ends its pandemic emergency — so the ending date would vary.
- A third proposal is a $450 a week bonus if those unemployed return to work. Supporters say only that proposal gives workers an incentive to get back on the job.
The latest proposal is to continue the federal benefits but at a reduced level.
Duncan wants to work, but also wants her CARES Act benefits that she for which she believes she is qualified.
"Just enough to make me be able to pay rent and pay for schooling," she said.
It appears Congress will approve some sort of extended benefits package since millions remain out of work. But how much they approve will be a hot topic of debate.
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