BALTIMORE — The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, which gives unemployment insurance claimants an additional $600 a week, will expire at the end of the month. Because of the way the law is written, millions will stop receiving this money on July 25, the last full benefit week.
In Maryland, there was confusion over when this crucial benefit would expire. In an email last Friday, the Maryland Department of Labor stated benefit payments made after Saturday, July 25 will not include the $600 benefit amount.
"As an example, if you receive benefit payments on Tuesdays, your final $600 additional payment will be on Tuesday, July 21. If you remain eligible for benefits, your next benefit payment on Tuesday, July 28 will not include the $600 additional payment."
Reports in other states indicated claimants would receive their final FPUC payments on July 25.
WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii contacted the Maryland Department of Labor and was told the agency had received guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) that they were not to issue FPUC payments after the program expired on July 25.
On Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman with the state agency revised her previous statement and said USDOL had just provided additional guidance regarding the expiration of the FPUC program.
"If claimants are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits and request payment for the week ending July 25, they will receive the final $600 FPUC payment next week. Therefore, eligible claimants will receive the $600 FPUC payment on the day they normally receive benefits BOTH this week (7/19-7/25) and next week (7/26-8/01)," she wrote in an email to Sofastaii.
The Maryland Department of Labor, Maryland’s General Assembly, and Maryland’s Governor do not have the authority to extend the program beyond July 25. Only the federal government has the ability to extend the payment of additional benefits.
The Debate in Washington
On Monday, President Trump met with Republican leaders to discuss additional federal aid. A proposal will most likely be unveiled by the end of the week.
Critics of extending the $600 weekly benefit have said it discourages employees from returning to work.
Denicia, an unemployment insurance claimant in Maryland, said it's barely helping her scrape by.
"We're just really trying to be very, very frugal; only spend what we need to spend, stretching the food. Granted we try to eat healthy, but sometimes you've got to buy stuff that’s not as healthy to make it stretch," she said.
Denicia and her fiancé are both in the hospitality industry. It took Denicia several months to start receiving her unemployment insurance benefits, and she's still trying to catch up.
"It’s hard to say, oh, I want to be paid up on this but what if I don’t have funds in the next few months? So we have to penny pinch, pay a little of this, show them that you care, pay a little bit here and there for that, show them that you care," said Denicia.
On Tuesday, Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin will attend meetings on Capitol Hill. Congress is not expected to pass a new round of relief by next week although they could offer back-pay should relief legislation eventually pass.