PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Labor and Training (DLT) said the extension in the statewide pause has created an uptick in new unemployment claims.
There are thousands of Rhode Islanders who may see their benefits end if Congress doesn’t pass another aid package.
As we near the end of the pandemic unemployment benefits, tensions are high from those out of work.
Cheri, who wrote to 12 Responds: “Just wondering what is going to happen to all the people who have been laid off since COVID started in March, when their 26 weeks plus the extra 13 weeks of unemployment runs out?”
Cheri isn’t alone, 12 Responds has received several emails from viewers concerned about what will happen after the benefits expire.
Judy wrote: “Will we receive another extension of unemployment benefits?”
According to DLT Director Scott Jensen, if lawmakers don’t pass a bill soon, it will hurt people in the state.
“The PUA program would end on the 26th, and that is going to be tough for folks who are using that program,” Jensen explained.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program provided up to 46 weeks of benefits for those not eligible for regular unemployment like contract and gig workers.
On Thursday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke about the $908 billion bipartisan relief package those on Capitol Hill have yet to pass.
“This is a smaller package,” Pelosi said. “And as I had said, this is not a stimulus package. It’s an emergency supplemental to deal with what we have.”
Margaux Fontaine, DLT spokesperson, said those who are receiving regular unemployment benefits, may be eligible for 20 additional weeks of extended benefits. She explained once notice has been received, claims should be filed on the DLT’s website.
On Monday, the call center experienced problems with their phone lines.
“Our phone service provider is currently experiencing technical difficulties,” Fontaine explained. “They have placed a high priority on resolution and are working with the state team to address the issue as quickly as possible.”
It is still unclear if the pandemic relief benefits will continue.
“We continue to monitor very closely what congress is doing and I hope they come to a resolution,” Jensen said.
The relief package, if passed, would provide jobless Americans an extra $300 a week in unemployment benefits.
A government spending bill is expected to pass this week, but it’s still unclear if the bipartisan relief package will be attached to that bill.