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12 Responds: When will the extension for unemployment benefits kick in?

Politics - Government
12 RESPONDS //
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Islanders whose unemployment benefits are expiring, or already have expired, are starting to see their benefits extended, state officials confirmed on Monday.

Under the federal CARES Act signed into law on March 27, people collecting unemployment are eligible to collect for an additional 13 weeks on top of the standard 26 weeks. But details on how that was going to be implemented were scarce.

Angelika Pellegrino, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, said they started processing the extension for those who recertified their benefits over the weekend, “and the department is processing more this week.”

“Right now, we’re processing the extended benefits manually, so there’s nothing to do on the claimant’s end,” Pellegrino wrote in an email. “If that changes and action is required on the claimants end, we’ll communicate with them.”

For those whose benefits have already stopped, Pellegrino said they don’t have to do anything to restart their unemployment payments again.

“They’ll receive an email from the department that they can begin certifying for their extended benefits,” she said.

The extension only applies to those collecting unemployment, not other jobless benefits like Temporary Disability Insurance or Temporary Caregivers Insurance.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have written into WPRI.com’s “12 Responds” system who saw their benefits frozen, likely because of an ongoing federal investigation into unemployment fraud

As Target 12 reported last week, many claims are getting scrutinized after it was revealed thousands of people saw their identities stolen and used to apply for fake claims. As a result, DLT has suspended payouts to those who had been getting it as they examine the claims. Especially those who get their benefits sent to reloadable debit cards, with brand names like Chime and GreenDot.

People in that situation have been instructed to fill out a form on the DLT website so their benefits can be restarted. But people are writing into 12 Responds that they haven’t heard anything after filling out the online form.

“Our team is working to respond to all of the inquiries within five to seven days; however, some may be sooner and others may take a bit longer depending on the claim and situation,” Pellegrino said.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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