WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Congress passed a second COVID-19 relief package late last month that enhances payments for unemployed workers.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Rebound Southwest Florida
However, there is already some confusion about when unemployed workers in Florida will start receiving the added federal benefit.
The $900 billion package offers $300 per week in supplemental unemployment payments through mid-March.
Many Americans have already started seeing $600 direct payments as part of the bill, but it is unclear when the extra $300 will be dispersed to workers still out of a job.
Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed by President Trump on Dec. 27, extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs.
For individuals on PUA, the program provides benefits for eligible individuals through April 5.
Jessica Robey lost her Rosemary Square restaurant job March 20.
Ten months later she’s hoping the additional $300 a week from the federal government will arrive soon.
"It definitely helps with not having anything," Robey said.
The money replaces the $600 a week that came from the government in 2020 but later expired.
When the new money will start reaching unemployed Floridians isn't exactly known.
"The biggest question of all is what's going on with this $300 federal dollars? When does the money start? How do we continue?" asked Amit Knightly, a West Palm Beach disc jockey.
Knightly, who began helping unemploymed workers last year, said he fielded dozens of calls this weekend asking those questions.
Department of Economic Opportunity spokeswoman Paige Landrum released the following statement Monday:
"The Department has begun implementing the CARES Act program extensions and is working diligently to fully implement program updates. We recommend that claimants continue to log-in to their CONNECT account every 48 hours to see if there are any additional steps they need to take on their claim."
It is recommended that claimants log-in to their CONNECT account every 48 hours to take any needed action on their claim.— Florida DEO (@FLDEO) January 4, 2021
To view additional resources, including guides on how to navigate CONNECT, visit https://t.co/G3ihBebQPe pic.twitter.com/erS66KWHMo
"My theory is the $300 will be here within the next week and a half," Knightly said.
That’s not the best start to the new year for those still out of work.
DEO also suggests claimants keep checking the website for updates and any additional steps that might be needed.
There are also other issues concerning the state's unemployment website, according to Knightly.
"Some people didn't get the actual link. They got the re-apply link and have to go through the whole thing all over again," Knightly said.
It seems to be creating a new set of frustrations and confusion after a year in which the state had to improve the website for applying for benefits.
"Somebody needs to press to get this system worked on because it's messing with a lot of people's lives," Knightly said.