Big changes are coming to federal unemployment benefits nationwide as the extra $600 in Pandemic Unemployment Aid some people have been receiving is set to end.
The expiration date varies per state. According to Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Interim Direction Shelley Zumwalt, it’s set to expire July 25.
It’s leaving millions of Americans like Oklahoma City resident Danielle Cole, anxious and on edge.
“How am I going to be able to pay for my rent, pay for utilities, pay for my medical insurance that I have to have?” said Cole.
It’s those questions keeping Cole up at night. She and her girlfriend are unable to work right now because they’re high risk for COVID-19.
“If I go out there and I get it, I might not make it,” said Cole.
The extra $600 a week in unemployment, to this point, has paid rent and kept lights on.
Cole is only seeing the minimum unemployment can offer right now. She was told it would later be adjusted to be based on her income. Cole said that hasn’t happened just yet.
“I think everyone is scared, it is a scary time right now,” said Cole. “You’ve got the pandemic and now you have you know your benefits to live off of. That is going away right now.”
It’s up to Congress, currently in session, to decide whether or not to extend or change the additional unemployment aide.
At a state level, officials are prepared to roll with the punches.
“It’s a federal benefit so we are waiting to hear just along with people what the decision is,” said Zumwalt. “I can relate. We are going to have to scramble as well to figure out exactly what the parameters are that they are going to give us to enact a benefit that they see fit.”
As the 11th hour nears, millions of Americans like Cole hope Congress doesn’t make the decision lightly.
“Put themselves in our shoes for a second, just imagine worrying about tomorrow, imagine worrying about taking care of your family,” said Cole. “Imagine not being scared about being scared about being on the streets because that’s where you could go with this right now. Just please help us. Listen to us.”
There is no timetable as far as when congress will decide.
The extra aide could just be allowed to expire.