Website crashes due to high demand


While other state cash assistance programs have struggled to secure funds this summer, the new $1,000 pandemic bonus program for private sector workers has attracted strong interest from the start. .

About 30,000 applications were requested for the Premium Pay program in its first days after its informal launch late last week, crashing the online portal multiple times, Comptroller Natalie Braswell reported on Tuesday.

But the bureau has already begun expanding the site’s servers and tentatively plans to launch more aggressive promotion for the program as early as Friday.

“I think it’s fantastic the amount of interest that’s coming in,” Braswell told the CT Mirror, adding that around 6,000 of those who have already signed up have already completed their application.

His office, which was tasked in May by the General Assembly with administering the $30 million program, on Friday opened the website for essential workers in the private sector of categories “1A” or “1B” of the vaccination priority lists of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some of the workers in these categories include healthcare workers, food and agriculture workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, transit workers, teachers and child care workers of children.

To be eligible, a candidate must have worked between March 10, 2020 and May 7, 2022.

Eligible candidates must earn less than $150,000 per year and cannot be employed by any federal, state, or municipal government entity.

Full-time workers earning less than $100,000 can apply for a $1,000 grant. Those earning more than $100,000 but less than $150,000 are eligible for grants on a sliding scale of up to $200.

But it doesn’t matter that an essential worker actually contracted COVID-19.

“These people were getting up every day while some of us had the privilege of working from home. They came in and did the hard work,” Braswell said, “quite frankly, putting themselves in danger.

Braswell on Tuesday urged those interested to wait, if possible, for a few days before visiting the Premium Pay portal on the controller’s website.

Information technology upgrades to the portal, which were first locked down on Saturday and periodically locked down earlier this week, are expected to be completed by Friday, Braswell said, adding that his office tentatively plans to begin its official promotional campaign for the program that day as well.

“We are in constant communication with our [information technology] provider,” said Braswell, who retained the services of the Public Consulting Group of Boston to help manage the program. “They understand the urgency of getting this in place and making it work.”

The application deadline is October 1 and completing the online form can be done in less than an hour. All applications are assessed equally regardless of when they are submitted, the comptroller said.

“It’s not a first-come, first-served program,” she added.

Premiums could be reduced

There is, however, a downside to the initial surge in requests. This means that pandemic bonuses may need to be reduced.

Legislative leaders have already conceded ahead of the program’s launch that the $30 million allocated may not be enough to meet demand. Up to 5% of the $30 million can be used for administrative costs, leaving at least $28.5 million for grants. The legislator has provided that, in this case, all endowments should be reduced proportionally.

Labor advocates have said the General Assembly and Gov. Ned Lamont are being too frugal with this program, especially given what neighboring Massachusetts has done.

The Bay State program, which covers essential workers in the private and public sectors, sent payments to 480,000 people in March and another 330,000 in Mayaccording to the Commonwealth Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

If Connecticut ends up providing an average grant of $500 — which would match the block grant Massachusetts provides for essential workers — that would allow Connecticut to provide about 57,000 grants.

And if more than 28,500 people apply for $1,000 grants from the state of Connecticut, that would match the minimum amount of funds available and likely trigger pro-rated awards.

CT has struggled with other cash assistance programs

The state has not been as successful this year in securing other cash assistance.

The COVID-19 assistance program for essential workers which was launched last January to replace lost wages and cover medical costs for frontline workers who have caught COVID has stalled due to a low profile. and a complicated application process ordered by the legislature and by Lamont.

Until the middle of last week, only about $560,000, or less than 2%, of the program’s $34 million budget had been distributed among 138 recipients.

This program will remain open until December 31, and more information can be obtained from the controller’s website. Interested individuals can also learn more about essential workers and bounty programs by calling the Monitor’s information line at 833-660-2503. Support in Spanish is available.

The Legislature and Lamont did a little better with the one-time child tax refund they approved this year for low- and middle-income families. A total of 238,668 households applied for the $250 per child benefit on behalf of 369,883 children.

But that means $32.5 million, or about 26% of the $125 million benefit, went unclaimed. The application period for this program closed on July 31.

Proponents of the child tax refund called it a success, but also admitted that it might have been better to send funds directly to households – without an application process – using older tax data. to identify eligible families.


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