This article was last updated on January 2
The new $900 billion COVID-19 Relief stimulus package has now been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. It includes extensions to pandemic unemployment programs (PUA and PEUC) and an extra $300 FPUC supplementary UI payment. The supplementary payment, half the original $600 FPUC, will cover 11 weeks starting from the December 27th, 2020 and go until March 14th, 2021. If you are eligible for extended PUA and PEUC you will automatically get the $300 payment during the extension period. You can see more about this new payment and rules in this article.
[July 2020 update after $600 FPUC expired] There has been a fair bit of confusion around the three main and widest impacting enhanced unemployment programs put in place as part of the CARES act to deal with the Coronavirus-COVID related job losses and/or furloughs. The main payment from the federally funded enhanced unemployment programs is the $600 FPUC. This expires at the end of July 2020 and you must qualify for at least $1 in regular state unemployment benefits to get this payment. The actual weeks for the last payment will be between July 24th and 31st depending on your state’s unemployment benefits payment schedule, excluding retroactive payments. While there has been a lot of talk around extending the $600 payment nothing has yet been approved in Congress.
The two other major unemployment stimulus programs are more around extending unemployment coverage (PEUC) and expanding eligibility (PUA) for regular state unemployment to gig, freelance and contract workers who now make up a large part of the workforce and would not have qualified for regular state unemployment under existing rules. These programs now allow for extended eligibility for regular state UI benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020 for PUA and after March 28th, 2020 for PEUC. Both programs have an eligibility end date on or before December 31, 2020.
So under PEUC regular state UI coverage is essentially extended for eligible unemployed workers who have exhausted existing state and federal UIC benefits for another 13 weeks between April 2020 and December 2020. PUA is for up to 39 weeks as provides regular state UI and includes the PEUC extension but is back-dated to the end of January 2020 for eligible claims. Both these programs are available up to the last unemployment week in December 2020. This would be week ending December 26th or December 27th.
Will I get the $600 payment if I qualify for PUA or PEUC?
Yes and that is why getting regular state UIC (unemployment insurance compensation) under PUA or PEUC for many workers is critical if they have exhausted or were not originally eligible for state unemployment insurance benefits. But you will only get the weekly $600 FPUC payment in addition to your state UI until the end of July (retroactive to April in most states). After July 31st and unless the FPUC programs is extended, all you may be eligible for is regular state unemployment payments.
The key item to note here and what has caused concerns and/or confusion is that from August 2020 people will stop getting the $600 extra unemployment payment and limited to state unemployment benefit maximums. For many people this will be a considerable drop in unemployment income support and if they are no closer to getting their normal pre-crisis working income then would likely face some pretty severe financial hardship.
Note – Retroactive unemployment payments may still be made through the first few weeks of August but this will only apply to the weeks that you were eligible during April to July when the FPUC program was in effect. New claimants will not be able to get the extra benefits after July 30, even if they meet eligibility criteria.
The PUA and the PEUC programs will continue through the end of the year which will still provide support to many people but at much lower levels than they currently get with the extra $600 weekly unemployment payment. So plan ahead for this or pray for an extension of unemployment benefits (and another stimulus check).