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Know Your Rights
Source: City & State NY
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Excluded worker fund regulations draw scrutiny

New to the regulations are the requirements that a worker have lost 50% of their income in order to gain access to financial aid, and a requirement that applicants worked at least 15 hours a week in the six weeks prior to losing income during the pandemic. The law creating the fund stated applicants would need to prove loss of income, but left it up to the Department of Labor to determine what exactly that would mean. This comes on top of the existing requirement that workers did not get paid more than $26,208 in the last year. This means that someone making as little as $20,000 over the past year would be ineligible for aid unless they were making $40,000 or more the year before and could prove it. “It’s almost as if they’re trying to make the fund inaccessible to some,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos, who has been a legislative leader in getting the fund established.

The federal government did not require this sort of proof when it sent stimulus checks, which were determined solely on income, nor does the state require unemployment filers to meet a certain threshold of lost income in order to get benefits, including pandemic unemployment assistance. “It’s already been hard for people to prove the income that they did make,” said Bianca Guerrero, the Fund Excluded Workers campaign coordinator at Make the Road New York. “It’s going to be even harder for people to prove income that they lost – proving a negative is really difficult.”