The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) manages the states’ unemployment insurance programs, including the now expired federally funded pandemic unemployment programs. This includes enrollment, benefits payments and ongoing certification process.
In addition to unemployment benefit insurance programs, Georgia also had several benefit programs over the last few years as discussed in the sections below.
How Much Unemployment Can I Get in Georgia?
With the expiry the pandemic unemployment programs, only traditional/regular state unemployment is now available for full or partial unemployment claims. The table below provides key details on the latest unemployment benefits and qualifying wage requirements in Georgia.
You will need to submit a claim or certify your application via your state’s unemployment department to get your actual weekly benefit amount. The state’s Claim Status Tracker is updated nightly and will display your current claim information.
Note that to qualify for unemployment, your job or hours worked loss will generally need to be involuntary. I.e. through no fault of your own or via directly quitting. Your job and wages must also have been paid by an employer or source that deducted unemployment insurance taxes per state law (see your paycheck).
Further if you are being paid severance via a layoff or able to use sick leave or paid vacation, you cannot claim unemployment.
You will also need to certify for benefits at regular intervals (weekly or bi-weekly), demonstrate ongoing work availability and evidence of job search requirements to keep getting weekly unemployment benefits.
|Weekly Unemployment Available (Min – Max)||$55 – $365|
|Max number of Weeks covered in Benefit Year||14 to 26 weeks, depending on the seasonal state unemployment rate when the regular UI claim is filed. Minimum weeks payable is 6.|
|Minimum Qualifying Wage Base||$1,134 in the two highest quarters in the base period and total insured earned wages in base period = 1.5x the highest quarter of earnings|
|Part-Time Income or Workers – UI benefits impact||Must have earned wages that do not exceed the weekly benefit amount plus $150.00. After this amount, your WBA is reduced dollar for dollar for overage.|
Why is my weekly benefit payment lower than the maximum amount?
Your actual weekly benefit amount (WBA) is the amount of money your state agency has determined you and your dependents may receive for regular unemployment insurance after filing a claim. This can change weekly based on your certification or claim for benefits.
Your actual WBA is based on the amount that you earned over the states pre-defined basic or alternate wage based period(s), which are generally based on four out of the last five completed calendar quarters spanning 12 to 18 months. You must also have state earned wages in at least two quarters of the base period to qualify for benefits.
The higher your earnings, the higher your approved WBA will be, up to the maximum amount allowed in the state.
Any part time or temporary earnings from employment or other activities during eligible weeks you are claiming and certifying for benefits, will potentially reduce the amount of benefits you may get.
Also note that that your state UI agency may deduct court-ordered child support from your weekly payment (by up to 50 percent) to pay your child support. This will reduce your WBA.
What if I worked or lived in another state?
If you worked or lived in another state during the base year, you should file your unemployment benefits claim in the state you worked in. Not where you reside at the time of claim.
Your claim will be paid and governed by laws of that state in which you applied for. You will need to report this on your state and federal income taxes per form 1099-G issued by the state’s UI agency.
GA ends all Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Early
Following recent job reports and state wide labor shortages, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced that his state will end its participation in ALL federally funded pandemic unemployment programs effective the week ending June 26, 2021. This covers the termination of PUA, PEUC, $300 FPUC and $100 MEUC programs extended under the Biden ARPA stimulus bill discussed below.
This follows actions by other states that are also ending federally funded pandemic unemployment programs in order to incentivize workers to return to work. The argument is that these generous benefits deter lower income workers (who make less than $15 p/hour) from returning to work. Opponents argue that the reason people are not going back to work is due to fears around getting COVID, child care and schooling constraints.
We’ve got to get more people in the work force. We have a record number of jobs in Georgia and [we are] open for business!Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp
The Governor’s Office said the state will used federal and state funds instead to provide job search support, education and training opportunities, childcare and transportation services, and fund safe workplace initiatives. Once Georgia stops participating in the federal UI programs (from week of June 27th, 2021) claimants will only be able to get regular state unemployment insurance benefits, assuming they qualify. The maximum weekly benefit in the state is currently $365.
$10,200 Unemployment Tax Break Now Being Received
Many current and previously unemployed workers have reported receipt of additional refund checks against the $10,200 unemployment tax break enacted under the Biden ARPA stimulus bill. The IRS started issuing these in late May and will keep processing catch-up stimulus/refund checks until the end of the year. You do not need to file an amended return to get this and if you filed a 2020 return, you should get this automatically in most cases.
Biden Stimulus Bill – Unemployment Benefit Extensions to September 2021
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 unemployment 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 states can update their program/systems to enable the extended weeks of coverage funded under the ARP Program.
We do not anticipate interruptions in payments for those currently receiving UI benefits. We will also work diligently to support those Georgians looking to get back to work while also continuing to provide the financial bridge for those individuals still unemployed.GDOL
Claimants should be aware of the following general guidelines around the extended coverage period funded under the Biden ARP stimulus bill.
- You do not need to reapply for benefits. GDOL will automatically enroll you in the appropriate extension once systems/programs are updated
- You should continue to file your weekly claim for benefits as you normally would as long as you remain unemployed.
- You will not need to contact GDOL in order for these program extensions to take effect.
- This legislation would extend the various benefit programs through the week ending September 4, 2021. This is approximately 25 weeks of extra coverage (the ARP bill had legislated 29 weeks in total).
- The additional weekly payment of $300 under the FPUC program will be extended through September 4, 2021 as well.
There are however some known issues several claimants are reporting (see comments below this article for more detailed discussions and options)
- Many are reporting scam emails to potential claimants asking for personal and private data. Do not share this online or to people you don’t know. Only go to the GDOL site to load documents and provide required certifications.
- Its still hard to get through to someone at GDOL for those whose benefits have lapsed. Keep trying as in some instances you will need a rep to manually progress your claim or to provide additional information to verify your claim.
- While the PUA and PEUC extensions are now available till Sep 4th, many people are reporting a lapse in benefits, which is mainly due to the need to provide additional documentation (PUA claimants) or not filing a new claim after you have reached your benefit year end.
- Some people who returned to work and stopped claiming benefits, but are now unemployed again are having a tough time reinstating claim due to manual checks GDOL has to do, which is taking more time than expected. Retroactive payments will be made for eligible weeks but this is a known issue.
- If you previously exhausted your PUA or PEUC benefits, the additional payments cannot be backdated for weeks prior to March 14, 2021.
I will post updates as more information is provided and you can stay connected via the options below.
Do your need to Reapply for Benefits?
The following chart from GDOL provides a nice way to determine if you have to reapply for benefits if you have reached your benefit year end, which many would have passed given its been over one year for a lot of people getting enhanced benefits?
There has been a great deal of confusion regarding filing a new claim. Claimants need to be aware that no matter what program you are part of, if you have reached the end of your benefit year, you must reapply for regular UI benefits to determine if you qualify for a new regular UI claim.Commissioner Butler (GDOL)
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions 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 March 14th, 2021. To receive the $300 FPUC benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA.
Payment Update from GA DOL on 2021 11-week extensions of PUA and PEUC
[Updated Feb 3rd, 2021] The GA DOL has made several updates to their systems to roll out the additional 11 weeks of unemployment benefits. Most claimants should be getting paid now, but there are exception groups that will have to wait till later this month to start seeing their payments (including retroactive payments)
11-week Extension UPDATES IMPLEMENTED/PAYING NOW (this includes the $300 FPUC weekly payment)
- PUA and PEUC claimants who had NOT exhausted benefits on or before 12/26/2020 and continued to request a payment
- Those on State Extended Benefits (SEB) who had NOT exhausted benefits on or before 12/26/2020
- Exhausted SEB on or after 12/27/2020 and were moved back to PEUC for the additional 11 weeks
- New regular (state) UI claimants who exhausted benefits on or after 1/10/2021 and will move to PEUC and establish a claim for 24 weeks
- PUA claimants who are moving to PEUC (e.g. if they had and lost a regular job)
Claimants who are pending GA DOL system updates for 11-week payment
- SEB claimants who exhausted before 12/26/2020 and continued to request weekly payments will move to PEUC for an additional 11 weeks (Will be able to claim extra weeks from 02/03/2021
- Payments for PUA claimants who exhausted before 12/26/2020 and continued to request weekly payments. Complex requirements under the new extension legislation has delayed system updates. GA DOL working to get ALL eligible payments released during the week of 02/01/21
- New PEUC and PUA claimants who have not received benefits earlier. Available in early February for processing
Delayed payments for these Claimant groups (expected by mid to late February)
- Payments for PEUC claimants that have reapplied for UI due to their benefit year ending
- Payments for SEB claimants that exhausted and have two PEUC claims from different benefit years and continued to request a weekly payment
- Payments for SEB claimants that have exhausted and did not continue to request weekly payments. Additional application may be required.
- Payments for PUA claimants that have exhausted before 12/26/2020 and did not continue to request weekly payments. Additional application may be required.
Please continue to check your GA DOL My UI portal for individual updates on your claim and requests for additional documentation. I will post additional details as they are released from the GA DOL. So subscribe via options below for updates.
[Updated January 14th, 2021] The GA DOL has been making several updates to their systems, but like other states rolling out the $300 FPUC, PUA and PEUC they are delays being experienced by several groups of claimants.
The GA DOL has announced that once UI systems/programs are updated they will begin paying the the new $300 FPUC to eligible claimants receiving at least $1 in weekly regular state UI, PUA, PEUC, or State Extended Benefits beginning with first payable week ending January 2, 2021.
EB and PEUC Update – If you set up an State Extended Benefits (SEB) claim on or before December 26th, you will receive all eligible weeks of SEB before converting to a Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC) claim. If you set up an SEB claim on December 27th or after, your claim will convert to a PEUC claim to receive the extension of 11 weeks of benefits. Payments cannot be released until the program specifics are completed and updated in the system. If you are eligible to receive a payment this week and have not exhausted your benefits, your payment could have been released 01/11/21 or may be released 01/12/21. Please monitor your MyUI portal for additional updates.
The GDOL is still receiving/analyzing DOL guidance on programming the 11-week extension for claimants who have exhausted PUA and PEUC benefits on or before week-ending date 12/26/20. Claimants should not file a new claim if they have exhausted benefits, but should continue to request weekly payments. The GDOL will update claimants on next steps as soon as the guidance is received and programming changes are implemented. Claimants should also continue to request weekly payments for those who have exhausted benefits or are waiting on determinations on eligibility.
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 then have to be implemented by the state UI agency in their systems and programs (see GA DOL program updates status). So this could delay the actual date of payments. 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.
- The GDOL encourages claimants to continue to request weekly payments
- 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.
- 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.
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program – Now Expired
Georgia has paid out the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provided supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Eligible claimants received $300 for each of the six weeks of the LWA Program which was only funded for 6 weeks covering the weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15, Aug. 22, Aug. 29, and Sept. 5.
Georgians started receiving payments under the LWA program from the week starting September 13th. The money was distributed in multiple batches to those who already qualified or certified for the program. At this stage all payments have been made and funding for the program has runout. New claimants who may have been eligible for the program will unfortunately be out of luck if trying to retroactively apply for the program.
If you didn’t receive your $300 LWA payment, it is likely due to the fact you didn’t have an existing weekly UI benefit determination of at least $100 from existing unemployment programs OR that you didn’t complete the certification process (above) via your UI portal. If you have confirmed the above and were eligible in the covered weeks of the LWA program, but have not yet received your LWA payment then you need to contact the GA DOL asap. You can see comments below this article for some useful tips from other GA readers.
The new LWA payment would be in addition to Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments currently available to unemployed workers. LWA Payments will will be retroactive to week ending August 1, 2020. See more on the GA DOL page.
COVID 19 (CARES Act 2020) Enhanced Benefits
Under the CARES act, the following are the types of federal unemployment assistance now available:
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has updated its current systems to distribute federal unemployment funds as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) bringing economic relief to many Georgians.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), which has now expired, provided an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs – State and Federal. The GDOL is distributing this additional payment to those currently receiving state or federal unemployment benefits. This supplement is an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and includes all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. The GDOL started issuing payments on Monday, April 13, 2020 for those currently receiving state benefits and will pay benefits retroactively for eligible recipients. The last payments, other than retroactive ones, were made at the end of July. At this stage no further $600 payments are being made.
Your payment may not be $600 weekly if you have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an UI over payment (one-half of your $600 FPUC payment will be deducted and applied to your outstanding over payment).
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is the program that will provide unemployment benefits to individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. These individuals must be determined to be ineligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits.
Individuals determined ineligible to be paid traditional state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application or will find a link to the application in their My UI portal. Once the PUA application is submitted, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. Applicants need to request payment for all eligible weeks since the closing of their business due to COVID-19. See detailed instructions on PUA.
Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GDOL and determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits and may be potentially eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a regular state claim.
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. Claimants are potentially eligible if they have been unemployed between March 29 through December 26, 2020 and have exhausted regular state or federal benefits after July 6, 2019. Individuals must be ineligible for state or federal benefits and able and available to work.
Individuals determined eligible for the program will receive an email or letter with instructions for PEUC or could find the additional benefits already applied in their My UI portal. Claimants need to request payment for all eligible weeks on the regular state UI page at Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payment.
State Extended Benefits, or SEB, is an extension of benefits that occurs when a state meets the unemployment rate threshold for a designated period. Georgia became eligible to pay SEB May 10, 2020. However, the first payable week ending date (WED) was July 4, 2020 based on the first payable WED of PEUC was April 4, 2020 for 13 weeks. As of July 5, 2020, Georgia began a high unemployment period in the Extended Benefits program increasing the maximum potential entitlement for claimants from 13 weeks to 20 weeks. The requirements for SEB are the same as regular UI benefits. The SEB claim is like an additional or reopen claim.
Filing a Claim and FAQs
New users can file a claim online (recommended).
The Georgia Department of Labor has two methods of payment available: Direct Deposit or Debit Card. If you have filed your own claim for unemployment, allow 5-7 days for the claim to be processed before attempting to claim weekly UI payments. You will receive an email confirming your claim and providing next steps for requesting your payment.
You must request a payment each Sunday thereafter to receive payments. You may do so by selecting Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments on the GDOL Home page or calling the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System at 1.866.598.4164.
You must claim at least one week of benefits for a decision to be made on your claim. You must report gross wages earned and any leave pay as earnings for each week claimed for benefits. Failure to report income could result in your having to repay any over payment benefits.
Issues with your certification or back dating your claim
Many readers got a message (text or email) stating that the system wouldn’t allow them to certify for more than 8 weeks back. After trying to call, emailing, and searching for answers all over the internet and GDOL website, a reader (per comments below) found a possible fix.
- Go to https://dol.georgia.gov/pua . Scroll all the way to the end of the page and then back up past the orange footer section. There, you’ll find the link to certify for PUA payment each week and instructions. You’ll notice 3 pdf files that you can download. The 1st pdf is the “How to…PUA” tutorial. The 2nd pdf is “Request for Weekly PUA Payment, DOL-5158PUA” & the 3rd pdf is “PUA Backdate Request Form DOL-5168”
- From my understanding, the 3rd pdf (#5168) is needed by those who need our claim to begin at an earlier date than what our determination letter states. If your claim date is right around the same time that you became unemployed, then you don’t need that one.
- The 2nd pdf (DOL5158PUA) is identical to what you fill out online every Sunday, except it’s in paper form. So you’ll need enough blank copies to fill out one form for each week that you were unable to submit online. Be sure to use only Saturday dates and try not to enter dates that you had already completed online. Realize that if you double up on dates, it’ll not only hold up others’ payments but if you get overpaid, they’ll make you pay it back and you’ll also risk being cut off.
- Once you have a 5158 form filled out for each of your missing weeks, plus a 5168 form filled out to request a backdated claim, if needed, I suggest you make copies of everything or snap pix with your phone so you have a record of them. Then bring them all to your local career center (Not sure, but you may need an appointment).
I am still working, but my employer reduced my hours. Can I receive benefits?
Individuals whose hours have been reduced are eligible to receive benefits if your gross earnings plus the earnings allowance does not exceed your weekly benefit amount.
You are required to report your gross earnings for the hours worked each week (the amount of your pay before deductions). You must report any vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, NOT the week it was paid. If your employer files a claim on your behalf, they are required to report your gross earnings,
How to contact someone at the GDOL for payment issues
You can try and meet someone at a local GDOL Career Center, which are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Or see this page if you want contact numbers which includes numbers for UI customer service at 404-232-3001 or 877-709-8185.