By Press releases from Office of the Governor and Employment Security Department with additions by Mario Lotmore.
Update: [6:30 p.m. Sunday, December 27, 2020] President Donald J. Trump signs $2.3 trillion government funding bill into law Sunday evening preventing a shutdown that was set to begin on Tuesday. The bill consists of $740 billion in defense spending, $664.5 billion for domestic programs, and $900 billion COVID-19 relief.
Olympia, Wash., December 27, 2020 – Gov. Jay Inslee announced today the state will provide funding for almost 100,000 Washingtonians who will lose federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits following President Trump’s refusal to sign the $900 billion federal coronavirus relief package passed last week. The president had until midnight on December 26th to sign the sweeping relief bill to avert a lapse in PUA benefits.
From the 5,593-page, $900 billion, federal coronavirus relief package, only $166 billion were allocated for direct stimulus checks to individuals making up to $75,000 per year. The remaining funds were for: unemployment benefits ($120 billion) , small business loans ($325 billion), transportation aid ($45 billion), schools and universities ($82 billion), vaccine management and tracing ($50 billion), and billions in so called pork projects such as two National Mall museums, $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan, $2.5 million for “internet freedom,” and $15 billion for live entertainment venues.
In a video released Tuesday, December 22, on President Donald J. Trump’s twitter account, the president criticized wasteful spending in the bill and demanded $2,000 stimulus checks rather than $600 that had been agreed to by Congress.
The bill came under criticism for allocating tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt, Israel, Ukraine, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, Pakistan, Sudan, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama to name a few.
“Today, I am announcing that Washington state will provide $54 million to extend a one-time Pandemic Relief Payment to 94,555 people in our state who have been claiming PUA and will be immediately impacted by the lapse in federal benefits,” stated Inslee in his press release on the subject today.
“The Employment Security Department will be issuing this state benefit later this week. This does not solve all the problems caused by the president’s inaction — we are doing what we can, but we simply do not have the ability to replace all of the unemployment supports in the relief package. However, for some people in our state who have been receiving PUA benefits, this will prevent an immediate loss of assistance at a time when they are most in need.”
This emergency payment will be issued by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) to all PUA claimants who were in active status the week ending November 21st, and will total $550 per claimant, which equates to roughly two weeks of benefits for most PUA recipients
“We know how critical these payments are to individuals and families across the state and we’re grateful to the governor for his leadership on this,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “The team at ESD has been working around the clock to get this new program ready. We will issue these one-time payments this week so that eligible claimants will have the funds as they head into the New Year.”
Gov. Jay Inslee authorized the use of federal CARES Act funds to help Washington claimants whose PUA benefits expired on Dec. 26 and are waiting for federal legislation to extend those benefits. The PUA program provides federal unemployment benefits for those not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance, such as independent contractors and self-employed workers.
The payment amount is the same for everyone: $550.
If you elected to have the Employment Security Department withhold taxes from your other benefit payments, you will receive $495. We will withhold $55 for taxes.
Who gets the one-time payment
You will get the payment if:
- You submitted a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claim for benefits for the week ending Nov 21, 2020, and
- We paid you for that week on or before Dec. 24.
You will not get the payment if:
- We show a pending issue with your claim.
- You are a recipient of regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) or Extended Benefits (EB).
When and how the payment will arrive
We will start to send PRP funds to claimants on or about Dec. 30, 2020. You don’t need to do anything to get paid. Eligible claimants should receive the payment sometime during the first week of January, depending on your financial institution.
The payment will be deposited in your bank or credit union account, or on your unemployment debit card — according to the method you chose when you applied for benefits.
How to know if you have been paid
For those with eServices accounts:
- After Jan. 1, 2021, go to your eServices account and select Manage my active PUA claim.
- Select the Weeks summary tab.
- Select the dollar amount listed in the Benefits paid column for the week ending Nov. 21, 2020.
- If you were eligible and received payment, you’ll see it as a payment in the Benefit detail called Federal or State Stimulus.
For those without eServices accounts:
- Check your bank, credit union or debit card statement after Jan. 1, 2021. Please don’t call our busy unemployment claims center to ask about your payment. If you don’t receive the payment, it means that you are not eligible.
Q: How can I find out if I’m eligible to receive the payment?
A: If you have an eServices account, you can see if you’re eligible to receive the payment by viewing the Weeks summary tab in your PUA claim. If it shows Paid in the Status column for the week ending Nov. 21, 2020, then you are eligible to receive the payment.
Q: How did you choose the pool of recipients?
A: We tried to cast as wide a net as possible to include the largest number of people.
We chose PUA recipients because that program has the most claimants.
We chose to pay those with a paid claim for the week ending Nov. 21 because that date was before most people ran out of benefits. That week also had one the highest number of claimants in November after the latest public health restrictions went into place.
We chose the Dec. 24 claim-paid date in order to include the largest number of claimants whose benefits expired with the CARES Act.
Q: Where is the money coming from?
A: The funds come from the federal CARES Act, which expire at the end of December.
Q: I get Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Why don’t I get the one-time payment?
A: Instead of the one-time payment, you will be able to apply for Extended Benefits (EB). You can apply immediately so that you don’t have a gap in payments. Look for a link to apply in your eServices account. If you don’t have an eServices account, call the Unemployment Claims Center to apply.