Update, April 20: Workers who don’t typically qualify for state unemployment benefits but are trying to get relief under a federal economic stimulus-funded program may hear soon from the Georgia Department of Labor.
Beginning Wednesday, April 22, emails should go out to applicants potentially eligible for help under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program .
The program is intended to benefit the self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, church employees, nonprofit organization employees and those with a limited work history.
The first step for these workers is to file a regular state unemployment claim application, which asks about employment history and wages for the last 18 months. The labor department has teamed up with the Georgia Department of Revenue to help verify wages.
Those receiving state unemployment benefits could begin getting a $600 supplement per week as early as this week.
The Georgia Department of Labor announced Friday that it is updating its system to distribute the federal unemployment funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
The $600 is part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program and is provided to any individual eligible for any of the state and federal unemployment compensation programs, according to a news release from GDOL. The $600 is on top of state benefits.
The number of Georgia workers seeking jobless benefits in early April surged to more than 390,000, eclipsing the total number of unemployment claims the state saw in all of 2019, as efforts to contain the coronavirus batter the economy.
Georgians can visit the GDOL website at www.dol.georgia.gov to access applications, step-by-step instructions, and video tutorials on applying for unemployment.
“The GDOL will begin sending this additional payment to those currently receiving state unemployment benefits beginning next week,” according to the news release. “This supplement will be an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and will include all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. The supplement amount is contingent upon any deductions required by the state or federal government.”
GDOL is also working to provide unemployment benefits for those not usually eligible for them. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will help those who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of nonprofits and those with limited work history.
Millions of these workers who were promised they would qualify for unemployment benefits for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic have been in limbo as the federal government and states scramble to implement that part of the $2.2 trillion relief package.
Under federal rules, people will receive benefits backdated to when they became unemployed because of the coronavirus, not to when they apply. So in the end, workers should not receive less money due to the delays.
GDOL is adding questions to its online unemployment application to better identify those who may be eligible, and that modified application is expected to be available Monday, April 13. Once an application is received, it takes several weeks to process.
As part of the process, GDOL is working with the Georgia Department of Revenue to verify those wages but if unable to do so may contact applicants asking for documentation, which could include tax documents or pay stubs.
Associated Press contributed to this report.