Planned $400 lost wages payments on hold

Mike Seals - December 17, 2020 1:06 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Planned payments of $400 to some Oklahoma residents who lost wages amid the coronavirus pandemic are being put on hold due to the potential approval of additional federal unemployment payments, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission director Shelley Zumwalt said Wednesday.

“If new federal legislation is passed and a new federal unemployment relief package reaches Oklahomans, it will be clear that OESC will return the funds,” said Zumwalt, who announced Dec. 10 that the payments would begin this week.

The payments were intended for those who received at least $100 in benefits from any claim type and certified their employment was affected by COVID-19 during the week of Sept. 6-12.

The deadline for using the federal dollars is Dec. 27, according to OESC spokesperson Nick Buscemi, who said the agency hopes to know by the end of the week if the payments can be made without recipients possibly being required to repay the funds.

OESC has received about $300 million total from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for payments to those left jobless because of the virus.

Zumwalt said about $50 million remains because of fewer claims than projected and efforts to stop fraudulent claims.

“We had hoped that, as a result of this effort, the state would be able to again provide assistance to claimants with these funds. To be clear, through sound fiscal management the state of Oklahoma saved over $50 million.


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