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Details on new stimulus package announced

By on January 28, 2021

(Screen capture)

Labor Secretary holds live briefing on social media

SAN JUAN — The secretary of the Department of Labor , Carlos J. Rivera Santiago, announced details about the new aid package related to the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (Cares) Act to mitigate the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

The announcement was made during a new live segment through the department’s social media pages, which the agency will be broadcasting regularly to provide a direct line of communication with beneficiaries of unemployment insurance and the Unemployment Assistance Program. (PUA by its Spanish initials).

“With the new package that was approved in December, an extension to these benefits was issued. Now the PUA extends through March 14 and unemployment benefits also extend until the same date,” Rivera Santiago explained in his live broadcast.

“In addition to extending benefits until March 14, 2021, the other important issue is that there is an additional compensation of $300 in addition to what you already receive from the PUA or for unemployment until that same date,” he added.

The U.S. Congress approved a new $900 billion economic stimulus bill on Dec. 21 to help families who continue to struggle financially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill was enacted on Dec. 27.

The package includes direct assistance for workers and families by providing an additional $300 a week for all workers receiving unemployment benefits until March 14.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Program, which provides additional weeks of federally funded unemployment to individuals who exhaust their state benefits, was also extended.

Additionally, the bill increases to 50 the maximum number of weeks that a person can claim benefits through regular state unemployment plus the PEUC program, or through the PUA program.

Rivera Santiago urged beneficiaries who still receive payments in checks to utilize the direct deposit service, since this prevents the process from being delayed. The department head also explained how this granting of emergency funds is processed.

“Once Trump signed the law on December 27, the next step was not to quickly disburse that money. No state department of labor could make disbursements of these funds until the federal Department of Labor issued guidelines establishing how the distribution of those benefits would be made because there are legal requirements—and the new legislation adds others—which are vital for disbursement,” he said.

Rivera asked the beneficiaries for patience during the process, although he admitted that there is a difference in efficiency between the unemployment insurance platform compared to that of the PUA. The former still uses old technology and is not very efficient given current technical requirements.

However, the official did not detail what plans the agency has to address the difference between the two services.

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