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Nevada expanded unemployment benefits may mean more money for jobless

There’s a new law on the books that could impact Nevadans seeking unemployment insurance benefits.

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed SB3 into law Aug. 6, aimed at helping the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation speed up claims processing and extending benefits for some Nevadans.

“We know there is so much more that needs to be done, and I know there are still many more claimants waiting for resolution of their claims,” the governor previously said. The legislation he signed “is not a silver bullet or the final word, but there is no doubt that it will help Nevadans for both the short and long-term going forward.”

Some of the changes are as basic as allowing documents or communications related to unemployment insurance to be transmitted electronically instead of by mail.

But a few changes could put more money in unemployed Nevadan’s bank accounts. The state’s new leadership in the unemployment crisis answered some questions about how DETR plans to implement changes from SB3. Here’s what you need to know about the new law:

Expanded eligibility

SB3 expands benefits eligibility to people working part time and making less than 1 1/2 times the amount in benefits they could receive. Previously, unemployed Nevadans couldn’t receive benefits if they made even slightly more than their possible benefits.

That provision of the bill automatically starts 60 days from the day it was signed, Aug. 6, at the latest. It could begin earlier if DETR implements the needed changes before that 60-day deadline.

Don’t count on that happening, though.

The new acting DETR director, Elisa Cafferata, said the department plans to use nearly all 60 days to install that portion of the bill. The department’s immediate priority is paying the eligible people who have been languishing in the system before it adds a new set of people into the system, Cafferata said.

The head of a new rapid-response team charged with fixing issues as they come up for DETR, Barbara Buckley, anticipates the state will have more information on how many people would be newly eligible for benefits in about a month.

“We think that it’s really helpful to our long term recovery to encourage people to work part time if they’re able, without a fear of losing their benefits. We think the policy is absolutely right,” Buckley said. “But again, you don’t want to pull your folks off to do the cost analysis needed to begin moving forward until we’ve tackled the largest priority, and that’s the backlog.”

Seven more weeks

The new law tacks on another seven weeks of benefits at the very end of all other benefits extensions.

It’ll be “fairly easy” to install this portion of the law, but this, too, will take a backseat until DETR has tackled the backlog of pending claims, Buckley said.

She said the department has some time to add the seven weeks because a claimant must first exhaust the original 26 weeks of state unemployment benefits, 13 weeks of federal benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and another 13 weeks of benefits under the State Extended Benefits program.

“It’s OK if we don’t get to it right this second because there’s very few people hitting the limit yet,” Buckley said.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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