Congress To Release Plans For Next Round Of Unemployment Help

Monday, July 27th 2020, 6:20 pm
By: Mallory Thomas

TULSA, Okla. -

Thousands of Oklahomans are still waiting to receive unemployment checks that are part of the federal CARES bill passed by Congress in March.

Those people want to know if they're going to receive those benefits, as Congress talks about a second round of federal pandemic unemployment assistance. 

Some people who were eligible for the first round of pandemic unemployment assistance said they still haven't received it and now they're worried about what a possible second round of unemployment assistance means for them.

OESC Interim Director, Shelley Zumwalt, said now the state is getting ready as Congress talks about approving a second round of federal unemployment assistance. 

"There was the framework for DUA which is disaster unemployment assistance, but it really wasn't built to handle the volume. So, I think that whatever is next we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure to execute it properly," said Zumwalt. 

In March, Congress passed the CARES Act. It added an additional $600 to unemployment checks to help people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. That extra money ended on July 25th.

"I was pending. I couldn't apply for it even if I wanted to. I did everything in my manpower that was advised and recommended. They said call, go online, I did all those things. I've exhausted all efforts," said Vanessa Hicks. 

Hicks said she contacted OESC in April because someone filed a fraudulent unemployment claim in her name. Then, last month, she lost her job and said she hasn't received an unemployment check yet. 

"I would basically be valid for that, but for some reason because of this fraudulent claim it has prevented me from applying and being eligible," said Hicks. 

Zumwalt said Oklahomans like Hicks who qualified for the federal benefits, will still get that additional $600.

Zumwalt said she's not sure what Congress will decided to do this go-round. 

"If it's a pattern that we've already established or a process that we've already established so we don't have to re-invent the wheel is going to be easier for the state, but we're anticipating multiple things that could happen," said Zumwalt.