Unemployment extensions looming for COVID-19 impacts

Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 6:49 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - It’s been one week since the state began accepting unemployment claims for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Billy Kirkland began receiving unemployment checks in November after a series of unfortunate events. “I started getting unemployment with no trouble and then it ran out recently. I am willing to go to work for a job but it’s just not there right now,” said Kirkland over the phone.

His unemployment check is $209 a week; just enough to keep the bills paid. But, like many people across the country, finding work is tough. “Right now, the chances are very slim of getting a job because of that coronavirus.”

Kirkland has been trying to file an extension since Alabama Department of Labor secretary, Fitzgerald Washington, announced people who are unable to work due to COVID-19 are able to file for unemployment benefits. But so far, no luck in filing an extension to his already existing unemployment claim.

“I just don’t know what to do. My hand is tied. I need my money just like everybody else does.”

According to the Alabama Department of Labor, two programs were passed last week to help people like Kirkland.

The Cares Act, which allows people to file a 13-week unemployment extension. Also, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which provides emergency aide to workers who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits.

Alabama Department of Labor spokeswoman Tara Hutchison said Kirkland along with thousands of other Alabamians will have to hold tight while the state waits for guidance from the federal government to roll out these new programs.

“Rest assured we are working as fast as we can to get you those answers,” said Hutchison.

For more information: https://www.labor.alabama.gov/

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