Unemployed Kansans lose federal benefits under CARES Act

Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 20:09:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All federal pandemic unemployment programs under the CARES Act ended Saturday, but some Kansans still are waiting on payments already owed.

Wichita resident Bill Hawley said he hasn't been paid since December 2020 and can't get answers about his claim.

"For about eight months, I called every single day and never got through," Hawley said.

Hawley said when he was receiving payments, the federal programs acted as a lifeline. Some states, such as Missouri, opted to end the programs earlier, while Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly refused to do so, despite pressure from lawmakers and businesses.

"Just that little bit of money makes a lot of difference, it’s life or death pretty much as far as survival," Hawley said.

The now-expired programs include: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which gave an additional weekly $300; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), created for gig and self-employed workers; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extended benefits after a claimant exhausted them.

Some claimants, such as Robert Vincenc, hope the programs ending will allow the agency to get caught up on backpayments.

"Those benefits should be readily available to any and all who have a claim," Vincenc said. "That’s what it’s there for, but they dropped the ball, the Kansas Department of labor dropped the ball big-time."

Vincenc said he received a nearly $10,000 backpayment last week, but still is owed five months of benefits.

In previous interviews with KSHB 41 News, labor officials have promised every claimant who is rightfully owed a dollar from the agency will get it.

"I just hope and pray that Kansas Department of Labor honors their word and pays the people who are due their benefits," Vincenc said.