Blank Unemployment Benefits formq

State cites tech woes for delay in increased jobless aid

Payments had been expected this week.

By BECKY BOHRER

Associated Press

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said technical glitches are to blame as the state works to distribute additional unemployment benefits to Alaskans.

Dunleavy, during a livestream news conference Wednesday, said the state understands the urgency behind distributing the funds.

An executive order by President Donald Trump allowed for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for states to provide the extra $300 a week benefit after a $600 a week benefit approved by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic expired over the summer.

[Watch: Gov. Dunleavy holds COVID-19 news conference]

Cathy Muñoz, a deputy commissioner with Alaska’s Department of Labor, said Thursday the department cannot use its unemployment insurance accounting and reporting structures to pay the FEMA money.

“The federal government requires that the two programs not be comingled, and as such the IT support system for FEMA had to be built from the ground up,” she wrote in an email.

It was expected, upon approval of the federal aid in September, that the program would be operational in six to eight weeks, she said.

On Sept. 18, Dunleavy’s office sent a release with a headline stating the additional $300 benefit would be distributed “soon,” though the release also stated distribution would occur “once programming is completed.”

The state labor department, in a tweet Oct. 13, said it would soon be issuing the additional benefit.

The eligibility period for the $300 boost spans from the week ending Aug. 1 to the week ending Sept. 5, Munoz said. Individuals who were receiving at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits during that time will receive another $300 weekly for each week of eligibility, she said.

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