Boosts to unemployment checks likely delayed

Posted at 4:47 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 20:42:17-05

SAN DIEGO — The new stimulus package may be official, but unemployed San Diegans may have to wait longer to get that extra $300 per week as promised.

The state Employment Development Department confirmed Tuesday that it is waiting for key instructions from the Federal Department of Labor on how to implement its portion of benefits from the $900 billion stimulus package President Trump signed into law on Sunday.

"We are making program adjustments with what information we have, so that when the federal guidelines and final details are available, we can complete the necessary programming to make these new benefits available quickly," the EDD said in a statement.

The legislation extended unemployment benefits through March 13, adding $300 to weekly payments. That would be on top of the maximum $450 per week California pays. President Trump signed the package into law a day after the prior stimulus package expired, meaning there will be a gap in distribution of the benefits.

"Letting the program lapse and then people having to restart it once the funding comes in is what's going to cause that delay, because it's not like they take the money and just hand out tomorrow. It's got to go through a certain process," said Kelly DuFord Williams, managing partner at Slate Law Group.

Meanwhile, more than 100 thousand San Diegans are unemployed. Audra Rene shut down her Rancho Bernardo salon when the latest shutdown order went into effect, and is now collecting unemployment, minus the extra $300.

"It's not like I have all the answers, but it's been extremely frustrating to watch back and forth and partisan bickering on so many things, especially as a small business owner," she said. "Real people are hurting and people are squabbling over this stuff. It's really disconcerting."

The Labor Department says it is working to get the instructions out to the states as quickly as possible and hopes to avoid delays.