While federally funded programs like PUA and PEUC have provided additional benefits and weeks of coverage for millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans during the COVID pandemic, many states have also triggered emergency provisions within their own unemployment insurance (UI) programs that extended UI benefits coverage if state unemployment levels are above certain pre-specified thresholds. This provides significantly more coverage when combined with the extended federally funded enhanced UI programs and allows broader eligibility criteria if a claimant’s unemployment was due to COVID related reasons. The graphic below (from How Much) shows the regular and extended benefits currently available in various states through the end of the year.
As a recap, most states provided basic or regular unemployment benefits for between 13 to 26 weeks. Under the CARES act enhanced unemployment benefit programs were put in place that funded an extension and expanded coverage of existing state unemployment benefits. This included:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Up to 75 weeks of benefits for freelance, gig and contract workers who would normally NOT have been eligible for state unemployment programs. Workers who get PUA are not eligible for PEUC or Extended State Unemployment benefits
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)—A total of 54 weeks of coverage if you have exhausted other benefits. This is available to people who generally would qualify for regular state unemployment and cannot be claimed if an unemployed person is eligible for PUA.
- Extended State Unemployment Benefits (EB)— Provides an additional 13 additional weeks of benefits when a state is experiencing high unemployment. Some states have also enacted a voluntary program to pay up to 7 additional weeks (for a total of 20 weeks maximum) during periods of extremely high unemployment. Note that extended state benefits are only available after people have collected all regular Unemployment Insurance benefits as well as any Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extension benefits they were eligible for. But if the unemployment rates drops below high unemployment thresholds in a state, the EB benefit coverage weeks may drop or cease.
So based on the above a New Yorker who was working a regular job (I.e. got a W2) before getting unemployed could get up to 59 weeks of benefits based on traditional unemployment insurance lasts for 26 weeks + PEUC offers 13 weeks of additional benefits and then EB which offers up to 20 weeks of additional benefits on top of the weeks of PEUC benefits, based on New York State’s high unemployment rate.
A similar worker in Texas would get 26 weeks of regular UI + 13 weeks of PUEC + 7 weeks of Extended State Unemployment benefits + 7 more weeks for entering extremely High Unemployment Period (HUP) for a total of 59 weeks. While triggered, HUP increases the maximum potential number of weeks for claimants on regular unemployment to 59 weeks and individuals on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from 39 weeks to 46 weeks.
Extended Benefits (EB) have triggered on in 48 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Note: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provided an additional $600 per week, that expired in July but still being retroactively paid in several states. Has been replaced by the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program. However both these programs provided supplementary UI payments, rather than extended benefit coverage.
How to Apply for State Extended Benefits
You generally do not need to reapply to get extended state benefits. If you qualify for Extended Benefits (EB), following exhausting your current claim balance under regular and enhanced unemployment programs, your state UI agency will send you a letter with more details or automatically enroll you for ongoing benefits. If you are still unemployed, continue certifying and filing your payment request as required by your state.
How much will I get under State Extended Benefits?
While the amount of EB’s are capped at the state’s weekly maximum benefit amount (MBA), many states pay less or a proportion of this. For example in Texas, the state EB is 50 percent of the regular UI claim’s MBA or will pay up to 13 weeks. The MBA for extremely high unemployment is 30 percent of the regular UI claim’s MBA or will pay up to 7 weeks. To confirm what you will get you will need to check with your state unemployment agency which will provide a determination using your wage base period.