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Temporary weekly $600 unemployment insurance kicks in for Montanans

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Posted at 2:46 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 19:02:57-04

GREAT FALLS — Brenda Nordlund, the acting commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said on Tuesday that Montana has begun paying the additional weekly $600 Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit established with the passage of the recent federal stimulus package, or CARES Act.

DLI began paying the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit on the evening of Monday, April 13, issuing $20,520,000 in FPUC payments. Montanans using direct deposit should expect to see the funds within two to three days, if not sooner. Claimants who receive checks should expect to see their benefits within the week.

At this time, these funds are not being issued to the population expanded under the CARES Act, which includes those that are self-employed. DLI will begin processing those claims as soon as possible and benefits will be backdated as provided under the law.

You can find information on applying for unemployment assistance at the DLI website.

Nordlund said in a news release: “We understand the difficulties of many Montanans who are out of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we know that these benefits are providing relief. We are working as hard as we can to make sure that everyone receives their benefits as quickly as possible. This is an important step in employing the assistance provided as part of the CARES Act. We continue to urge patience, as the department works to implement all the components of this vital legislation.”

Under the legislation, anyone receiving unemployment compensation benefits is eligible for the additional $600 a week stimulus payment. The payment is added to the recipient’s state weekly benefit amount. The payments will be made for eligible weeks beginning the UI week ending April 4 and will last through July 25, 2020.

Programs included in the CARES Act legislation:

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) - Provides an additional $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit is retroactive for those who had a claim beginning the UI filing week of March 29 through April 4, 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - Allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - Provides unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them, including the self-employed.

The department must complete a review of detailed federal guidance on PEUC and PUA before it can implement changes to IT systems to process claims for self-employed Montanans and those who have exhausted their regular UI benefits. DLI will start processing these claims as soon as possible.

DLI is encouraging anyone who believes they may be eligible for these programs to file an Unemployment Insurance claim online at MontanaWorks.gov. Those who already have an active claim, or who have already filed a claim, do not need to refile to be eligible for these benefits.

In addition to the expansion of UI benefits under the CARES Act, Governor Steve Bullock recently issued a directive to minimize the time Montanans await UI benefits, and waived the requirement that claimants search for a job during this time.

DLI is providing daily updates for employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19 on its website.