While most states have now updated their unemployment filing systems to accept new claims or reactivate existing PUA and PEUC claims to support the pandemic unemployment assistance programs rolled out under the CARES act and extended in 2021 under the CAA COVID Relief Bill, there are still many, many issues with making UI benefit payments. One common issue I am seeing across several of my articles on this topic and from the many comments below is where eligible claimants received their first $300 FPUC UIC payment but then don’t see a second or third payment in subsequent weeks whether they’re paid on a weekly or fortnightly payment basis. Comments I have received from people in New York, Florida and California confirm this. I have posted possible reasons (and solutions) for this based on what is being published on certain state unemployment and government websites. You can also see this recent video on on the $300 payment issues.
I’m in NYC ….I received $300 last Friday as a first payment …..is it weekly pay or biweekly because I didn’t receive nothing this week. (Khal)
I’m also in NYC and received my initial PUA payment. I’ve not received a payment yet for this week. Been trying to contact someone to get an answer but without success. It’s a bit frustrating. (Paul)
I live in New Jersey and i am on unemployment since last year. However I never received $300. I am getting upset now. New month new bills !!!!! (Julie)
I am living in PA and I am receiving UC because I was laid off. In addition to my biweekly UC deposit, I have gotten one $300 payment which I received on Jan 3rd. I still have not received the $300 payment for any of the other weeks this month that I was unemployed. I can not find any information after googling it and I do not know who to contact if I could even get through. Does anyone have any information that could help me? (Dani)FPUC roll-out by state
So why could the above scenarios be happening?
Remember the $300 p/week FPUC payment is for individuals receiving regular unemployment benefits, PUA, PEUC, or extended benefits. So while you may qualify for the FPUC in a given week, but if your job or eligibility changes you won’t get the extra payment for the following weeks. That is why you must certify every week to ensure you get your regular UI payment, along with the additional $300 payment till March 10th, 2021 (The original $600 FPUC payment ended back in July 2020, but his article does contain some lessons learned from that payment).
Slow Processing. A common and likely reason is simply that state UI agencies/departments are under so much pressure with the flood of new claims, while tying to update their systems to handle the new provisions, that they cannot process the FPUC payments first enough. This is especially the case for newly eligible freelance and gig economy workers. As the Ohio Dept of Job and Family services said, “We are behind schedule in payment distribution. Each claim is important to us, and we understand the urgency of providing you with the resources you need to support your family. “
Fraud and additional identity validation. The is now a big reason that unemployment claims and especially payments are being delayed. If your state UI agency suspects a fraudulent application or weekly certification then your entire unemployment (standard and enhanced benefits) will be held up while this is investigated. Because of the volume of claims and surrounding issues, it could take several days or weeks for already short staffed unemployment agencies and departments to process your claim and get your payments out. Trying to contact them around this may also be hard given the fact your claim or payment has likely been flagged as fraudulent so an agent will be careful what they can say. The only option in this situation is to check your account regularly and wait for the agency to contact you. If your claims were legit you will get a lump sum payment for backdated claims.
Unemployment system glitches. Because the roll-out of these programs was so swift, there wasn’t sufficient testing done by many state UI agencies. Hence the ongoing glitches where payments were made for the first week – which should have included retroactive payments – but not made for subsequent weeks. A few comments on related posts also had some readers surprised at receiving a payment when they thought they were not eligible. Sounds like another glitch.
PUA exceptions. Kimberly from Buffalo, NY said she got a mystery $300 payment for one week without getting any of her other benefits, but didn’t get that $300 again in subsequent weeks. When she called her local news station to help chase this up after getting no response from the NYC Department of Labor. They finally responded and said the initial payment was for a limited group of people who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) stuck in the PUA application process before the state streamlined going forward. People like Kim should be receiving regular UI and the $300 payments going forward.
PEUC and Expanded State Benefit program changes. Many claimants may have received their initial $300 payment while claiming regular state unemployment. But if their claim balance reached $0 (i.e expired) they may only be eligible for extended benefits under the PEUC or Expanded state benefit programs. However in many states they will have to reapply or re-certify for these new programs, for which they should have been contacted by their state UI agency. If they don’t follow the instructions received (make sure you check your mail and online junk mail for any missed instructions) then the $300 payment will also stop.
Debit Card Issues. Most states allow eligible claimants to receive unemployment benefit payments either by debit card or direct deposit. Direct deposit is the fastest payment option, but lots of people who may not have ready access to an active bank account or for other financial reasons prefer to receive their unemployment benefits via a state UI agency provided debit card. However several people are finding that getting paid via debit card can cause delays due to receipt of the card, fraudulent use or expired cards. This article provides more on this, including what to do.
What to do now?
For those who have gone more than two weeks since receiving their original FPUC payment, the first step is to confirm your job/eligibility situation has not changed (i.e. continue certifying) and to contact your local state unemployment agency (see links by state here). But it is hard to get through to someone so you will need A LOT of patience. Also ensure you check your online unemployment account, email and junk mail to ensure you have not missed any communication from your state UI agency.
Ultimately, state agencies should retroactively catch-up on payments and you will be made whole, but that won’t help those already behind on bills and need the money just to make ends meet. I’ll post some more solutions as I find them, but please share your story below and hopefully the community of readers on this site can answer your question or make you realize your are not alone.