What does new stimulus bill mean for unemployment payments?

NOW: What does new stimulus bill mean for unemployment payments?

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- The newly signed stimulus bill will provide relief to millions of Americans, but did it come too late?

Experts say 11 million people might not get unemployment benefits this week. That’s because the President signed the bill late Sunday, Dec. 27.

The CARES Act, passed in March, created unemployment programs to help people out of work because of the pandemic. Those programs expired hours before the President signed this latest bill. Now states have to figure out if anyone can get unemployment this week.

The latest stimulus package provides an additional 11 weeks of unemployment and an additional $300 a week for 11 weeks. But because the bill was signed after the week started, people might not get benefits until the first week of January.

“The complicating thing is there is also something in the bill about contracts,” said Michelle Evermore, a policy analyst for the National Employment Project. “Contracts were actually signed back in April. So we’re hoping it might be the case that states can just change the dates and the numbers in those contracts and continue to pay benefits for this week.”

It will be up to the US Department of Labor to interpret the bill. In the meantime, states have to reprogram computers to administer the new round of benefits.

“I’ve been told most states will take two or three weeks to program in the benefits,” Evermore said.

Wisconsin is already struggling to keep up with unemployment claims. Lanise Johnson, a school bus driver who was laid off, says she’s already been waiting for months.

“It’s been emotional,” Johnson said. “Its been challenging. I’ve never been laid off before in my life.”

Now she worries with the new bill, she’ll be waiting even longer.

“It’s actually going to pend even longer due to all the new stuff and the new guidelines,” Johnson said.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development didn’t return our calls or emails for comment.

But its website says it’s “waiting on guidance from the Department of Labor” and “there will be programming that needs to take place” before changes are implemented.

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