The Newest Unemployment Benefits Changes In The Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill
Lorna Morton expected the government to stop paying her unemployment benefits next week, but now that Congress passed another pandemic relief law, she can get it through March.
Unsure if her benefits would continue, Morton said, "I haven't felt safe I can meet my obligations."
Morton, a podiatrist who works in nursing and retirement services, is one of nearly 12 million people who are now eligible for unemployment benefit retention and an additional $ 300 per week.
The bill also raises a lifeline for more than 4 million workers laid off at the start of the pandemic who have already received benefits for the maximum number of weeks available under state and federal programs. You can be paid unemployed for another 11 weeks.
The new benefits are part of a $ 900 billion coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed Monday after months of stalemate. Legislation directs the Internal Revenue Service to send $ 600 to most Americans and allocates more than $ 300 billion to small businesses.
However, the bill contains some provisions that are detrimental to workers. For one, the benefits only last until March 14th. At that point, the additional $ 300 will disappear and no one will be able to make a new claim under any federal program. Workers who are already receiving benefits can do so until the week of April 5th.
Republicans insisted on phasing out so fewer people would be cut off at one time and so it would be easier for Congress to ignore the problem when it arises. This is a signal that, despite a grim economic outlook and the ongoing pandemic, Republicans will firmly resist Democratic calls for the benefits to resume in a matter of months.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) Supported the provision, saying Republicans "set the table for economic sabotage."
The legislators who negotiated the Compromise Act ignored a proposal by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) To make unemployment benefits partially tax-free. Unemployed people have had to pay taxes on their benefits since the 1980s, with the exception of a small hiatus thanks to the 2009 Restructuring Act. States are not even required to allow unemployed beneficiaries to have taxes withheld from federal benefits, although many states do the case is.
In a stark imbalance, the bill will result in a huge tax cut for companies receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans. Reversing previous IRS guidelines, Congress now says companies can deduct the wages and salaries and other expenses that are covered by the loans from their taxable income, which means they get a tax break on expenses that they didn't even have to pay themselves. The tax burden has been endorsed by both parties and could reach more than $ 100 billion.
"It's billions for millionaires," said Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. "The entrepreneurs are louder than the unemployed."
The new law includes a number of other small changes to unemployment. States must make it easy for employers to eradicate anyone who turns down a job offer, but also to inform workers of their "right to refuse work that poses a risk to the health or safety of the applicant".
Congress also lifted demands that states get back the full amount of overpaid benefits from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program - the federal program for gig workers - even if the overpayment was the state's fault. Some people owed thousands of dollars and had no way to pay.
"That was going to be a monumental problem," said Michele Evermore, an unemployment insurance expert with the National Employment Law Project, in an email.
In a tacit admission that the regular unemployment system is not helping a large number of workers, in March Congress launched the PUA program under the Coronavirus Aid, Aid and Economic Security Act (CARES) to help workers without traditional Payroll cannot be left behind doing this.
Going forward, PUA applicants will need to provide evidence of their previous income in order to receive even the bare minimum that Evermore described as "a little annoying," but not that bad considering that states cannot cut people off for failure alone Cough up documents. And many workers may already meet the requirements.
Morton, 49, who lives in Chester, Virginia, said she had already submitted tax information to the Virginia Employment Commission about last year's income so she is not concerned about continuing to be eligible for PUA benefits. As an independent contractor, she would not have qualified for unemployment benefits without the CARES Act and she felt happy to receive the benefits.
"You can't count on unemployment," said Morton.
That's why Morton kept working. The only problem is that the coronavirus isn't really doing its job in Virginia and the rest of the country. Morton said that due to COVID-19 restrictions, she could only enter four of the 15 facilities where she was regularly employed for foot care prior to the pandemic.
People receiving unemployment benefits usually have to notify the state every week that they are still unemployed, looking for work or actually doing some work. Morton said she made too much a few weeks to get unemployed, but a few weeks she gets the full benefit.
She can count on the benefits until April, but doesn't know if business will pick up after that. She is afraid of contracting the virus, but even more afraid of having to take another job and losing her career as a pedicurist for people with cognitive or physical disabilities, which she sees as her calling.
"This is where the security of having only one relationship with God comes into play," she said. "When you've done all you can and there is nothing else you can do, you must keep his promises."
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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