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COVID-19 relief bill to extend unemployment aid; South Carolinians hopeful

The COVID-19 relief bill is expected to extend unemployment aid offering hope to South Carolinians without work due to the pandemic.

SUMTER, S.C. — A new federal stimulus package is offering hope to many across the country, including those receiving unemployment benefits.

Jeric Finnikin was working in customer service before he says the coronavirus left him without a job. Since then, he’s been receiving unemployment assistance.

“It benefitted me a lot,” Finnkin said. “I was able to get things done, pay my bills and still go out and do little things.”

On Saturday, the benefits for his and other federal programs were set to end.

“It was starting to get to me,” Finnikin said, “but it's not anymore.”

RELATED: What is in the new $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill?

Credit: Kayland Hagwood, Zoom
Jeric Finnikin

According to the State Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), the current proposal has included:

  • An extension to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), potentially increasing the current 39-week program up to 55 weeks. 
  • A requirement for new PUA claimants filing January 1 or after to provide proof of their employment or self-employment within 21 days. 
  • An extension of the 50% federal funding for reimbursable employers into 2021. 
  • Up to 16 weeks of a $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit for weeks of unemployment beginning after the week of December 26th and ending in 2021. (These provisions are being negotiated and may change if a flat stimulus check is sent.)
  • An extension of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) into 2021, potentially increasing the current 13-week program up to 29 weeks. 

The details could change as the bill is finalized, but Finnikin said he's feeling hopeful.

RELATED: Lawmakers rush toward vote Monday on $900B COVID relief bill

“It makes me feel absolutely amazing, because you know, I myself am trying to do twice as much job applications and trying to figure out, hey, what am I going to do since this is ending,” Finnikin said, “and it’s not just me, it's other people…. It’s a lot of people struggling.”

Once it’s passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the president, it could take about four to six weeks for locals to receive the funds.

Finnikin says he’s feeling hopeful.

“God always makes a way out of now way,” Finnikin said, “so, I know something good is coming."

To learn more about DEW’s response to the federal relief bill, visit DEW online.