[Updated following DOL Guidelines] We finally have an official answer to the question in this article and earlier discussion around how many weeks are actually in the ARP bill that funded the second extension of enhanced unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor (DOL) has acknowledged in program guidelines for state UI agencies implementing these extensions that there are only 25 weeks between the week ending March 13, 2021, and the last payable week of September 4, 2021. As such, eligible claimants will not have a way to exhaust their full 29 week PUA entitlement stated in the ARP bill before the program expires!
So ultimately the federal law, the way it was written, is actually an error. Claimants will only receive PUA benefits increases to 75 weeks and for PEUC up to 49 weeks due to the last payable week of benefits being week ending September 4th, 2021 or September 5th, 2021.
Or read another way, unless there is another extension or phase-out period added (as I had assumed earlier) people will miss out on 4 weeks of benefits.
This is a question that is confusing a lot of people, including me initially. It is law now that unemployment benefits have been extended to September 6th, 2021 per the latest stimulus bill (American Rescue Plan). The current enhanced benefit programs including PUA, PEUC and the $300 FPUC extensions expired on March 14th (existing claimants can use benefits till April 10th). So the latest bill essentially funds new/extra benefits from March 15th, 2021 to September 6th, 2021. Which is exactly 25 weeks! Look it up or calculate it yourself.
But the challenge is that the bill (HR1319) that was signed into law has the following clauses related to the PUA and PEUC programs which indicates these have been extended by “29 weeks” respectively. This is contradictory to the dates stated in the bill itself which reflect a 25 week duration. So what gives?
So is it 29 weeks or 25 weeks of extended benefits?
The number of weeks between March 15th to September 6th is 25 weeks. Fact.
So 29 weeks in the bill, means that we have 4 weeks unaccounted for. Four weeks is a lot of extra money; if that is truly the duration of the latest round of unemployment benefit extensions. After doing some further analysis I concluded that the 4 weeks is just the phase-out period, like we had under the last extension via the CAA bill. It wasn’t explicit in this bill, but I suspect that because this is the likely last round of UI benefit extensions Congress wanted to give a little buffer for unused weeks for claimants with active balances.
If I am wrong, then 4 extra weeks of benefits will mean we go till October 2nd with this extension, which is not congruent with the bill’s applicability language. But great new for jobless workers getting these extra weeks.
Until the Department of Labor (DOL) issues final guidelines, we won’t know for sure. It’s also a reason many articles on this topic are not giving the specific weeks duration and only saying benefits are extended until September 6th. And states will have to get clear on the specific coverage duration before they can update systems to apply extended weeks for new, exhausted and existing claimants. But per the graphic below I am pretty confident the extension covers 25 weeks + 4 weeks of phase out, for a total of 29 weeks in the latest extension. Which matches up with the bill.
What say you?