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OLYMPIA  Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzi LeVine shared this statement on the ongoing rollout of the new federal stimulus measure, which extends and expands federal unemployment benefits:  

Unemployment benefits are a lifeline to unemployed workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and all help is welcome. Our team has been and continues to work quickly and nimbly – especially in light of the many changes that have occurred this past week - to implement this new federal legislation.  

“Because of work completed over the holidays and the past several weeks, we expect to update our systems quickly enough to maintain continuity of benefits for nearly all claimants, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) recipients whose benefits expired prior to Dec. 26. We also expect to start processing the additional $300 per week, called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), on Jan. 15. As always, these funds can take several days to reach customers after we release the payments, depending on their bank.  

The vast majority of claimants will not experience any gap in their benefits as long as they continue to submit their weekly claims. Some much smaller populations might need to wait until we receive necessary guidance from the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).The most important thing is for claimants to continue to submit weekly claims. We will provide all back payments on benefits to eligible claimants, including the additional $300 per week of FPUC.  

We continue to encourage the USDOL to provide us the information and guidelines needed to implement these programs fully. Ongoing updates are available at esd.wa.gov/covid, through social media and in communications directly to claimants. We know how urgent this is for Washingtonians and our team will continue to work night and day to ensure these new benefits are available as quickly as possible.”  

As of mid-December, the Employment Security Department has distributed more than $13 billion in benefits to more than one million unemployed Washingtonians since the start of the pandemic in March.