Federal unemployment programs end in Kansas in September

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Federal unemployment programs in Kansas will expire on September 4. Here’s what workers need to know.

Kansas City Star

Unemployed Kansans who were receiving unemployment benefits under federal pandemic programs will see those payments expire on September 4.

The programs that expire are Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC; Emergency unemployment benefit in the event of a pandemic, or PEUC; and assistance in the event of an unemployment pandemic, or PUA.

Congress initially created the new federal benefits in early 2020 through the Coronavirus Help, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES. Lawmakers expanded programs through coronavirus relief bills in December and March.

The unemployed in Kansas are expected to continue filing weekly claims under federal programs until September 4.

At the same time, many Kansans say they still haven’t received their benefits under federal programs. All workers who are entitled to these federal benefits will be reimbursed funds even after the programs expire as long as they are eligible, according to the state labor department.

The FPUC program currently offers an additional $ 300 per week to eligible workers. The PEUC program extends benefits for a longer period after a worker has exhausted regular unemployment. The PUA program has extended benefits to workers who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment but who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, such as concert workers or the self-employed.

The American Rescue Plan Act, March’s relief legislation, allows federal unemployment to expire in September. Congressional leaders and President Joe Biden have not announced any plans to expand the benefits.

Republican leaders and others across the country have criticized ongoing federal unemployment programs, attributing the extra cash flow to a particularly tight labor shortage in the restaurant and hospitality sectors. . Some Republican-led states, like Missouri, ended their federal unemployment programs early. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly allowed the programs to stay in Kansas.

After September 4, the only unemployment available to Kansans is regular state-funded unemployment insurance. To be eligible, workers must have earned certain wages.

The Kansas Department of Labor publishes other resources for the unemployed on its website. It includes links to access food assistance, housing and utilities, childcare assistance and more.

New unemployment thresholds

A new state law that came into effect in May changed the threshold that determines the number of weeks of unemployment benefits available to Kansas workers. The change will impact all initial claims starting Sept. 5, according to the Ministry of Labor.

Thresholds are based on the state’s seasonally adjusted three-month average unemployment rate.

If this rate is less than 5%, workers can benefit from a period of unemployment of up to 16 weeks.

If this unemployment rate is at least 5% but still below 6%, then workers can receive up to 20 weeks of benefits.

If the state’s rate is 6% or more, no more than 26 weeks of unemployment benefits are available for Kansans.

The Kansas Department of Labor has struggled for a long time since the COVID-19 pandemic struck to pay benefits to eligible unemployed workers and answer their questions about the claims. The state caved in under an outdated 1970s computer system, new federal programs, lack of call center workers and more.

The delays have left some workers waiting months for benefits with no source of income and unable to find new jobs. Some have faced food and housing insecurity while awaiting further federal assistance programs. The department particularly struggled with the PUA program, as it extended the benefits to a whole new category of workers. But in May, the department significantly reduced that backlog when it transferred people to different programs.

The employment agency has also had to deal with record amounts of unemployment fraud and unemployment. The state paid between at least $ 300 million and $ 600 million in false claims.

The state hired new call center employees to help earlier this year. The Ministry of Labor is also modernizing its technological system to improve it in the future.

As of mid-March 2020, the state labor department said it has paid more than 4.8 million weekly claims totaling more than $ 3.1 billion, between regular unemployment and federal anti-unemployment programs. pandemic.

To apply for unemployment benefits, visit www.getkansasbenefits.gov.

For answers to questions about expiring federal unemployment programs in Kansas, visit www.dol.ks.gov/ui-faqs#unemployment-programs.

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Megan Stringer reports for The Wichita Eagle, where she focuses on the issues facing the working class, work and employment. She joined The Eagle in June 2020 as a member of the corps with Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues and communities. Previously, Stringer covered business and economic development for USA Today Network-Wisconsin, where his award-winning stories spanned everything from retail to manufacturing and healthcare.


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