Thousands To Lose Extended Unemployment Benefits Over Weekend

Wednesday, December 9th 2020, 6:36 am
By: Ashley Holden

Thousands of Oklahomans will be losing their unemployment benefits this Saturday and only found out about a week ago. 

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said typically the U.S. Department of Labor gives them a three week heads up, but they were only told about a week in advance. 

State Extended Benefits or SEB is the second extension following a traditional Unemployment Insurance claim. After the first 26 weeks, those unemployed were eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC. The first PEUC extension lasts for 13 weeks and then people, like Kenneth Black, can receive SEB for another 13 weeks. 

Black told News 9 he was let go from his job and just started receiving SEB payments. He thought he had weeks to come up with a plan but that turned in to just days. 

He said he was shocked when he saw a vide from the OESC on social media announcing the program was ending December 12. Now the father of four is struggling to figure out how to make his rent. 

OESC Chief Executive Officer Shelley Zumwalt said this timing isn't typical for the DOL, but it's also something she doesn't control. 

"Knowing so many people were going to receive that message and it was just going to completely change their calculations for the holidays and for so many reasons, it was heartbreaking," said Zumwalt. 

This is also just the beginning for unemployment assistant programs ending. On Dec. 26 all the other benefit additions added during the pandemic will expire without new legislation from Congress. This also includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, a federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to self-employed, contract, and gig workers.

Zumwalt said its hard to predict what will happen next. Her best advice is for people to educate themselves on the benefit options once a stimulus package is passed. 

If people do have question about their current benefits, the OESC asks they call or visit one of their regional officers.

For more information visit OESC's official website