On this page you will find several articles on the latest unemployment programs and links to state specific UI pages for unemployment resources and FAQs.
The last few years saw several federally funded enhanced unemployment programs put in place to support the record levels of unemployment as a result of the Coronavirus/COVID induced economic slowdown.
However these have now been wound down with only traditional or pre-pandemic programs state unemployment benefits available to eligible claimants as discussed in the sections below.
Federal Unemployment Benefits Extensions Ending and Retroactive Payments
Extended unemployment benefits under the Biden ARPA stimulus ended in ALL states after Sep 6th, 2021 despite chatter around further benefit extensions to the end of 2021 or even into 2022. Some claimants are still waiting on retroactive benefit payment adjudications (where available) for weeks they were were covered.
With the expiry the pandemic unemployment programs, only traditional/regular state unemployment are now available for full or partial unemployment claims.
You will generally need to submit a claim or certify your application via your state’s unemployment website (see below) to get your actual weekly benefit amount (WBA).
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/covered 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.
State Unemployment Insurance Resource Pages
Also given the volume of questions and as every state has varying unemployment rules (including for retroactive back payments), I have started creating some specific state unemployment pages to provide information on filing or checking the status of unemployment benefits
You can also see our Youtube channel for video updates.
Which States Ended Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Early
Following job reports that showed a shortage of workers to fill open positions, many Republican (RED) led states ended one or more of the federally funded pandemic unemployment programs (PUA, PEUC, $300 FPUC and $100 MEUC) up to 10 weeks earlier than planned in order to incentivize workers to return to work.
The argument is that these generous UI 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 and/or child care and schooling restrictions. You can see more on which states are ending the PUA and $300 FPUC here and this recent YouTube video on this topic.
States will still be obligated to pay active unemployment claims up to the early termination date in their state (mid June to mid-July in most states). This includes any missing or retroactive payments. New claims for these federal programs won’t be accepted after this date and instead claimants will have to rely on the pre-pandemic state unemployment programs in place.
Retroactive Unemployment Benefit Payments
State agencies are rolling out there updates by claimant group, e.g. those with active benefits or have exhausted benefits). This unfortunately has meant ongoing delays in several states for claimants who had exhausted their PUA benefits in particular.
You can see the state specific resource pages below for updates and rollout by unemployment agencies and labor departments in those states.
$10,200 Unemployment Income Exemption
The good news for many unemployed workers was that in the ARPA stimulus bill there was a $10,200 tax exemption for unemployment income in 2020. The now available tax break exempted the first $10,200 in unemployment income received in 2020. For married couples, this amount would be $20,400.
No exemption is in place for unemployment benefits income in 2021, 2022 or beyond.
2021 Federal Unemployment Extensions and Program Coverage
Latest Update – Additional funding and extended coverage (25 weeks) for enhanced unemployment benefit programs has now been passed under the $1.9 Trillion Biden Stimulus Bill (ARPA). This is in addition to the original 11 week extension under the CAA COVID relief bill. Federal funding for unemployment benefits programs like PUA, PEUC and the weekly $300 FPUC payment are now available till September 6th, 2021.
Enhanced Pandemic Unemployment Programs Summary
- The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision expands eligibility rules for claiming unemployment benefits and compensation to cover more workers, including contractors, freelance/“gig” workers and those who are self-employed. To qualify for PUA benefits, jobless Americans must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is now available for up to 79 weeks weeks (excluding some state specific extensions), until September 6th, 2021 or as long as your state chooses to participate in the program. There is a phase out period to keep claiming benefits until the week ending April 10th, 2021 for those who have remaining weeks (no new claims in the phase out period).
- The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extended state-level unemployment insurance by an additional 53 weeks compromised of 13 weeks originally under the CARES act, 11 extra weeks under the CAA/COVID stimulus bill and up to 29 weeks under the ARPA bill. So state unemployment maximum benefits that normally last 26 weeks for example, would last for up to an additional 40 weeks in 2021.
- [Reduced to $300 in 2021] Under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program an additional payment of $300 per week on top of the current and extended regular state UI benefits will be provided for 40 weeks through to September 6th, 2021. The FPUC program originally provided $600 when first implemented in 2020, but that supplementary weekly payment expired in July 2020 and was only funded at 50% of the weekly amount in subsequent stimulus bills.
- The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program provided $300 to $400 of additional weekly benefits to recipients getting at least $100 of current unemployment benefits (including the above programs). This program was in effect from August 1st to September 5th 2020 (6 weeks of payments). States have now made payments under this program including providing back payments where applicable. See the latest state roll-out list and payment dates.
- While not a federal program, many states have triggered extended benefit (EB) programs due to high unemployment rate thresholds triggered in their states. This generally provides 7 additional weeks, on top of the 13 weeks available under the PEUC, for a total of 20 weeks. This program has ended in 2021 across several states as unemployment rates have fallen below the mandated thresholds.