Recipients of the extended federal pandemic unemployment benefits, already unhappy about Governor Hutchinson’s decision to stop the benefits 10 weeks early, June 26, had something else to be concerned about today.

They received this letter:

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The sentence about nonpayment of a balance raised a question: Does that mean the state won’t pay for legitimately claimed benefits that haven’t been paid? The concern is understandable. Many claimants remain trapped in a months-long effort of attempting to validate claims for benefits under either the extended federal benefits program of $300 a week or the special pandemic assistance for the self-employed.

The answer appears to be no. All benefits earned before June 26 will be paid if judged proper. No unemployment after that time will qualify for continuing benefits.

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Here’s the full response from Zoe Calkins of the Workforce Services Division:

The last compensable week of PUA is the week ending June 26, 2021. The balance mentioned in the letter is referring to the number of weeks available to claim. For PUA, the maximum number of weeks is 79 weeks. Depending on when they filed and how many weeks they have claimed, some individuals will have weeks remaining on their claim at the end of the program. If the program were to end in September, this would still be true. Many people stop claiming benefits with a balance left on their claim because they return to the workforce. Claimants with a sufficient balance remaining will be paid for every week of benefits they claim for which they are eligible up to when the program ends (June 26). No benefit payments will be made for weeks that occur after June 26, 2021. ​After June 26, DWS will continue to make benefit payments to those who are entitled but only for weeks claimed that occurred prior to the end of the program. So, individuals with claims in adjudication who are found eligible after the end of the program will still be paid for all weeks of benefits claimed for which they are eligible up to the week ending June 26. The same goes for those with appeals pending who are issued a favorable decision after June 26. ​

Hutchinson cut these programs off 10 weeks early, arguing that they were a disincentive to people returning to work. That’s an article of faith among employers and Republican politicians though there’s scant statistical evidence for the claim and some evidence that health, childcare and a desire for better or different work are explanations for the inability to fill job openings.

 

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