BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Wednesday, April 8 the additional $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits will begin being dispersed to Louisiana applicants Monday, April 13.
The federal money will be in addition to the maximum weekly state benefit of $247. Edwards said this includes those workers who are under “1099” tax situations.
Edwards said the state received the federal funding Tuesday night.
The head of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC), the agency that handles unemployment claims, said Tuesday she and her staff are committed to “helping each and every Louisiana citizen” in need of unemployment benefits. LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie added that the number of citizens seeking unemployment is “unprecedented” and that has led to delays in getting certain claims processed.
The U.S. Department of Labor says those eligible for the extra dollars will receive retroactive payments back to either their date of eligibility or the date they signed their state agreement, whichever came later. The additional $600 per week is set to expire with the last week of unemployment benefits before July 31, 2020.
Louisiana residents who are qualified to get unemployment include those who have been laid off, have had their hours reduced or have been mandated to stay home by their employer, the government, or healthcare professionals.
Those trying to reach the LWC by phone are encountering issues at times.
In some cases, for example, the automated system will answer and gather personal information only to then announce that a live operator is not currently available.
“There will be delays as we are working to help each and every citizen,” Dejoie said. “We are doing our absolute best.”
Dejoie said that as of Tuesday morning, 186,000 applicants had successfully completed their required weekly certification in order to get unemployment benefits for next week. She pointed to that large number as a success story within her agency as the team works to process as many claims as possible.
Even though the LWC has temporarily waived the job search requirement, recipients must still check in weekly to continue to get benefits. Recipients can complete their weekly update between 12:01 a.m. Sunday and 11:59 p.m. Saturday to be eligible for the following week.
The fastest way to do that weekly check is online via the Louisiana Workforce Commission website.
However, Secretary Dejoie said even the LWC website experiences slowdowns and the best time to use the online service is between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m. daily.
The LWC call center is now open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m, seven days per week. It will also be open on Good Friday. The state has added additional employees to the LWC to process claims, bringing to total number to 400.
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