Oregon’s unemployed wary of gap between expiring benefits and relief

Coronavirus

OED awaiting on guidance from feds

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Both the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Compensation Programs were set to expire this week until President Joe Biden announced he would be signing the recently-passed $1.9 trillion relief bill that extends the programs through September 4.

The relief bill came as welcome news to the roughly 133,000 Oregonians either already out of unemployment benefits or are about to run out.

Heather West is among those who are already out of PUA benefits. On Wednesday however, the Oregon Employment Department could not specify how long the state would need to implement the new legislation when we asked when people like Heather would be getting her checks. West told us the process leaves her guessing when it comes to finances.

“That’s a challenge to be able to figure out how to budget accordingly,” she said. “Especially when you don’t know how long you’re going to be waiting.”

Once the bill is signed, OED would still have to wait on guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor before it can say how long the changes will take.

The relief bill includes a $300 weekly federal benefit. Additionally, the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will be exempt from federal taxes for anyone who earned less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income in 2020.

OED could not confirm if people who run out of benefits will be paid retroactively for the weeks they have missed. State officials said if you fall into that situation to keep filing every week.

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