LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Gov. Andy Beshear has something to offer thousands of Kentuckians who have been waiting at least two months for unemployment benefits: A check.
Not an unemployment check. A special, one-time payment.
Beshear plans to use $48 million remaining from the state’s share of federal CARES Act funds to make one-time payments of $1,000 to people whose jobless claims are at least two months old and who have not previously been paid.
About 24,000 people meet that and other qualifications for the $1,000 payment, according to Beshear’s office.
In addition, Beshear plans one-time payments of $400 to about 60,000 people who didn’t earn enough in regular unemployment benefits to qualify for President Trump’s Lost Wages Assistance program. That program boosted unemployment benefits by $300 to $400 a week for six weeks last summer.
Beshear is set to unveil the payments during his State of the Commonwealth address on Thursday night.
“We have the dollars to provide help to those who’ve been waiting too long on unemployment,” Beshear told reporters during an embargoed briefing Wednesday ahead of the speech.
Beshear is proposing a technological overhaul of the unemployment system and restoring about 90 benefits workers to employment offices around the state as part of a budget proposal he unveiled Thursday.
But the one-time payments to unemployed workers will be made by executive authority and do not depend on legislative approval as part of the budget, according to the governor’s office.
The timing of the payments has not been disclosed, but Beshear is set to give an unemployment insurance update at his media briefing Friday.
Those eligible for the $1,000 payments, Beshear said Wednesday, meet the following criteria:
- They have not received unemployment benefits and filed more than two months ago. (The governor’s office did not specify the date from which the two months is measured).
- They remain unemployed.
- There no potential “identity or fraud issues” with their claim.
The $400 payments will be made to people who missed out on the Trump money because that program was only available to people who qualify for at least $100 per week in regular unemployment benefits, which Beshear called “cruel.”
Benefits are based on previous wages, and in Kentucky people can qualify for as little as $39 per week.
The governor’s office said the $1,000 and $400 payments will be made automatically and people do not have to do anything to receive them.
While only 24,000 will get the $1,000 payments, the state had more 86,000 “unresolved initial claims” as of mid-December, with some dating to March. It was not immediately clear why more aren't qualified for the $1,000.
Bradley Dietzman, a 28-year-old electrician in Hodgenville, Ky., said he filed for benefits on Oct. 29 because he couldn’t find childcare for his two kids and was told he was eligible for more than $12,000 in all, at $489 per week.
He has yet to receive a payment, he said, as his claim is “under investigation” and he can’t get any more information.
“It kind of stinks ... I have worked steady since I got out of high school. I am not the stay-at-home type. I was forced to do this; I have no other option,” he said.
Dietzman said he hopes to receive the $1,000. But what he really wants, he said, is to get to the bottom of the issue with his claim.
“I think that’s great he is trying to do something,” Dietzman said of Beshear’s plan. “Anything helps at this point. I just really wish they could get the issue addressed.”