MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – FOX10 News is committed to getting the facts about how the government’s response to the coronavirus affects regular people.
Here is investigative reporter Brendan Kirby with Wednesday’s installment:
QUESTION: We’re coming up on the end of the quarter for the Alabama Department of Labor. And that might impact people on unemployment. Explain that.
BRENDAN: The unemployment office says federal and state laws require the department to re-assess eligibility for expanded unemployment under the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on a quarterly basis.
The current quarter ends July 5. The state will make this determination automatically; no action is required by the claimant.
But you might notice a change to your weekly benefit amount. That depends on eligibility requirements. If your benefit year ends before July 5, you will have your claim re-evaluated. To see when your benefit year ends, check the “Claim Tracker” online.
After the new determination, if the state decides you are eligible for regular unemployment benefits, the newly determined claim will appear on the “Claim Tracker.” The amount might be different than what you were receiving. If you are deemed “not monetarily eligible” for regular benefits, the state may determine that you qualify for the expanded benefits under the CARES Act.
This will be automatic.
Make sure you continue to re-certify each week. Do this online at www.labor.labor.gov or call 800-782-7389. If you are getting benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, file your re-certification on the phone or at https://pua.labor.alabama.gov.
QUESTION: We have a question from a viewer related to unemployment re-certification. One of the questions on that form is: “Were you unable to reach your place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 during the week?”
The viewer had two jobs – a teaching position that no longer exists and a second part-time job. Does the question apply to both jobs?
BRENDAN: That’s a lot. So, let’s break it down.
Tara Hutchison, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Labor, told FOX10 News that the question about being advised to self quarantine normally would apply to both jobs in that case.
But if the teaching job has been eliminated or the claimant is not getting paid for the summer, then it would apply just to the second, part-time job.
The bottom-line is: Any question about how COVID-19 affects your employment applies to any job you have.
QUESTION: Lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus continue to rise in Alabama and across the country. But the true number of infected might be much larger.
BRENDAN: That’s right. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters Thursday that 23 million Americans might have gotten this disease. That would be about 10 times the number of confirmed cases.
That’s based on an examination of blood samples across the nation looking for the presence of antibodies.
CDC Director Robert Redfield told reporters that the testing strongly suggests that there are large numbers of people who contract the virus but never exhibit symptoms.
That’s a good-news, bad-news situation. On the bright side, that obviously means the virus is a lot less deadly than it would appear from the official numbers. However, people can infect others even if they are not feeling sick. And they generally never get tested. So, that means much more opportunity to spread the virus.
QUESTION: We’ve gotten a bunch of questions from people confused about what to do with stimulus money sent to loved ones who recent passed away. A new report shows they’re not the only ones.
BRENDAN: Yes, a report Thursday by a government watchdog shows many, many Americans are in this exact same situation.
The report comes from the Government Accountability Office, which pointed to data provided earlier by the Treasury Department’s inspector general. According to that report, 1.1 million payments went to people who had died. Those payments totaled $1.4 billion.
For a long time, it was uncertain what people should do with the money. And several of them asked FOX10 News. Now, the Treasury Department says you are supposed to return it. The GAO on Thursday recommended that the Internal Revenue Service come up with cost-effective options to notify people that they need to send the money back.
As a reminder, to return the payment, write “void” in the endorsement section of the check and include a note explaining the reason you are returning it. Then mail it to the appropriate IRS office. For Alabama residents, it’s
Memphis Internal Revenue Service
5333 Getwell Road, Memphis, TN 38118.
If you already cashed the check or it was a direct deposit, send a personal check or money order payable to U.S. Treasury and write “2020EIP” along with the Social Security number of the recipient.
(If you have a #COVIDINFO question for investigative reporter Brendan Kirby, email him at Brendan.Kirby@fox10tv.com)