The US Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines to state unemployment agencies for paying out funds under the COVID relief bill extensions (Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020) to the PUA, PEUC and additional $300 FPUC program. This includes:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Extension Updates
PUA provides UI benefits to gig workers and others not traditionally eligible for them. Under the law, the end of the period of applicability for the PUA program extends to those weeks of unemployment ending on or before March 14, 2021. For individuals on PUA who have not exhausted their benefit eligibility of up to 50 weeks, the program also provides for continuing benefits for eligible individuals for weeks of unemployment through April 5, 2021. The law also strengthens documentation requirements to ensure PUA program integrity.
Duration of benefits: Initially limited to 39 weeks, minus any weeks of benefits that the individual received during the Pandemic Assistance Period from regular UC and EB. For weeks of unemployment beginning on or after December 27, 2020, the individual may receive an additional amount of PUA equal to 11 weeks of unemployment for an overall total equal to 50 weeks, minus any weeks that the individual received regular UC and EB during the Pandemic Assistance Period. If at any time while the individual is collecting PUA, the individual becomes eligible for regular UC, the individual must stop collecting PUA and file a new regular UC claim.
If someone’s benefit had expired prior to December 26th 2020 (end date of previous program) it does appear per the recent DOL guidelines that they won’t get retroactive benefits going back to when they exhausted their PUA claim balance. Instead will have to apply or reactivate their claim with their state UI agency. This process will vary from state to state and instructions will soon be issued by state UI agencies per guidance (see state specific UI information here). They will only start getting paid for extended PUA from December 27, 2020 to March 14th, 2021 for remaining weeks. If they qualify for the PUA during these weeks then they will also get the extra $300 FPUC for those weeks.
If an individual previously exhausted the initial entitlement to PEUC (13 times the individual’s average WBA) and is currently collecting PUA during the PEUC extension, then state must stop the individual’s PUA claim and have the individual revert to collecting the additional amounts of PEUC.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Extension Updates
If an individual has exhausted regular UC, the individual may then be eligible to receive PEUC under section was initially limited to 13 weeks of the individual’s average weekly benefit amount (WBA). For weeks of unemployment beginning on or after December 27, 2020 the individual may receive an additional amount of PEUC equal to 11 weeks. The overall total equal to 24 weeks of the individuals WBA.
There are certain circumstances under which an individual who is collecting PEUC and becomes eligible for a new benefit year of regular UC may be able to continue collecting PEUC instead of filing the new regular UC claim.
If an individual previously exhausted the initial entitlement to PEUC (13 times the individual’s average WBA) and
is currently collecting EB at the time the additional PEUC amount being available, the individual must exhaust the existing EB entitlement before reverting back to collect the additional amount of PEUC.
which expired July 31, 2020, is reauthorized and modified to provide $300 per week to supplement benefits for weeks of unemployment beginning after December 26, 2020, and ending on or before March 14, 2021. FPUC is not payable retroactively with respect to any week during the gap in applicability, that is, weeks of unemployment ending after July 31, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending on or before December 26, 2020.
Extended Benefits (EB). If the individual exhausts PEUC and the state has triggered “on” to EB due to passing the state’s high unemployment threshold, the individual may then be eligible to receive EB during the applicable EB period. If at any time while the individual is collecting EB, the individual becomes eligible for regular UC, the individual must stop collecting EB and file a new regular UC claim.
The DOL will be releasing more information on program-specific Unemployment Insurance Programs to states that will provide, in further detail, legal and programmatic guidance on certain provisions of the law. I will update as more information comes to hand.