Nebraska Appleseed’s Response to the Community regarding the Termination of Unemployment Benefits
Over the past few days, we’ve received your calls and messages regarding the termination of unemployment benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the stark realities that many Nebraskans face when navigating our complex systems. This is why we have continued to work diligently with community members and at the Legislature to advance systemic solutions for these programs and support services, including unemployment benefits, SNAP maximum allotments, and more. We will also be working with state policymakers to address these concerns through interim studies planned for the next few months.
Last year, Nebraska joined every state in the country in implementing enhanced unemployment benefits in response to the pandemic. As of June 19, 2021, the State of Nebraska officially opted out of all federal unemployment programs, effectively reducing the amount of aid available to those that have been most impacted by the economic downturn. We know it is still unsafe or impossible for some Nebraskans to return to work, and many others have been searching for employment for months without success. We want to assure you we are aware of, and seriously concerned by this development and do not believe this is the best policy choice for our state. Other state advocates, specifically Indiana, have been able to reverse their policy makers’ decisions to end enhanced unemployment assistance through litigation. Our legal team has been monitoring these developments and conducted research into possible legal challenges to address this issue in Nebraska. At this time, we have not identified any violation of applicable state or federal law in terminating enhanced unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, due to differences in state law, the legal strategies employed elsewhere are unavailable here. By opting out of enhanced unemployment benefits, the state has left Nebraskans in an impossible situation.
Our communities need support
There are, however, clear and direct action steps that you can take to make your voice heard and let our state leaders know how important this issue is to you. Governor Ricketts needs to hear about how truly critical it is to support our communities. We encourage you to contact the Governor’s office, 402-471-2244, and let them know how you and other Nebraskans will be significantly impacted by this decision to end pandemic unemployment benefits, and that it should remain in place until at least September of 2021.
Below is a list of resources that are available to you:
- Apply for SNAP, energy assistance, cash assistance for families with dependent children, Medicaid, and other programs at Accessnebraska.ne.gov.
- With the new positive law, the gross income limit for SNAP increased. To check if you’re eligible and to apply, contact the Food Bank’s SNAP Outreach Hotline at 855-444-5556.
- For emergency financial assistance, support with housing, and other basic needs, contact your local community action agency.
- Call 211, a referral hotline and database to find other local resources for specific needs.
- Visit or download the mobile application MyLink, another referral hotline and database available to community members.
Additional information on waiving an overpayment of unemployment benefits
If you have received, or later receive, a notice of overpayment of unemployment benefits from the Department of Labor, you may qualify to have that overpayment forgiven. Overpayments of certain pandemic unemployment programs may be forgiven if the overpayment was through no fault of the claimant and if recovery of the overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. The deadline to apply for this waiver is July 31, 2021 or 30 days after you receive a notice of overpayment, whichever is later. The application requires that 2019 and 2020 tax returns, with Schedule C included, be uploaded in NEworks, and that certain sources of monthly income are reported. To apply, visit dol.nebraska.gov/UIBenefits.