The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (ADWS) administers Arkansas’ Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and provides unemployment insurance benefits to those eligible, and maintains the IT programs/systems for filing unemployment insurance claims and fraud detection. This also includes management and payment of the federally funded enhanced benefit programs – PUA, PEUC and FPUC – provided as part of COVID stimulus plans. Below are the latest payment updates.
Arkansas Ending $300 Weekly Benefit Early By Stopping PUA and PEUC Programs
In a bid to address a state wide labor shortage, supposedly due to the overly generous enhanced unemployment benefits recently extended to September (per update below), Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that Arkansas will end its participation and receipt of federal funds for the PUA and PEUC programs by June 26th, 2021. This will also end the $300 weekly payment for claimants in this group.
“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose….Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed.”Gov Hutchison
This cessation of benefits is also occurring in other states (mainly Republican controlled) which are facing labor shortages and business’ owners pressure to force workers to get back to work, rather than raising wages to entice them back.
Biden Stimulus Unemployment Extensions to September 2020
Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits have been extended until September 6th. This includes further extensions to the PUA program, PEUC program, $300 weekly payment under the FPUC program and $100 Mixed Earners (MEUC) program. There were also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits received in 2020.
Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC Payment Schedule
The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines to implement the latest round of extensions until September 6th. For those who exhaust their benefits, or have a zero claim balance, after March 14th (when current CAA extensions end) there could be a lapse in benefits as ADWS updates their program/systems to enable the extended weeks of coverage funded under the ARP Program. I will post updates as they are made available and you can follow along via the options below for the latest updates.
Arkansas Payment Status of the 2021 Unemployment Program Extensions (PUA, PEUC and FPUC) Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment.
These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to April 5th, 2021 (no new claims after March 14th, 2021). To receive the extra $300 FPUC weekly benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA. Final guidelines on these programs and final eligibility including additional document verification procedures to combat Fraud have been issued by the Department of Labor and are being rolled out by ADOL in their systems and programs. The following are updates that have been made per recent news.
AR ADWS Update January 21st 2021 : DOL guidelines have been provided, but ADWS agency has provided very limited updates and is presumably in the middle of updating their state UI systems to process payments. Individuals with existing claims for regular unemployment benefits or PEUC should continue to file weekly claims. Those eligible will receive the additional $300 FPUC for weeks claimed beginning with the week ending 01/02/2021. The PUA system must also undergo updates to accommodate the recent extension of the PUA program. Those with existing PUA claims will need to resume filing weekly once certain modifications are complete (until then they won’t be able to get any benefits under the extended coverage period).
UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed (see potential scenarios where you need to take action to get benefits under the new extension)
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims if their state UI systems have been updated for the extended coverage period.
- Claimants will receive retroactive payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional details as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
Can I talk to someone around getting extended benefits?
At this stage it is very hard to get a hold of anyone to talk to about your claim. Per the last ADWS update, they will share updates as soon as possible on the extensions and revision of the current programs. Until that time, they are asking the
public to please hold questions and refrain from calling our local offices or Hotline with questions regarding the extensions or changes. Soon, claimants will receive notices with information specific to their UI claim status.