Congress and the President have passed legislation that funds an 11 week extension into 2021 for enhanced unemployment programs under the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (COVID Relief Bill). This covers extending the PUA and PEUC programs until March 14th, 2021 and providing supplementary unemployment benefits at $300 per week for millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans. You can see this article for more on how/when this will be paid and expected duration of payments.
As a reminder, here is how most states are starting the extended enhanced unemployment payments as they update their systems to process extended claims for those who had exhausted their benefits or wanted to file a new claim after December 26th, 2020:
- Claimants who were receiving PUA or PEUC when the programs originally ended Dec. 26 and still had weeks left of eligibility should not see an interruption in payments, and have continued to be paid benefits in addition to the $300 FPUC as long as they were otherwise eligible.
- Claimants who had exhausted their PUA benefits or PEUC benefits on or prior to Dec. 26 and are eligible for benefits will begin receiving payments for the $300 FPUC by mid-January (see state tracker)
Irrespective of when your state starts making payments, they will include retroactive payments to week ending January 2, 2021 (Start of extension period) if eligible. In order to be paid, you must have weekly certifications on file. Claimants who are still unemployed should continue to file their weekly certifications, so that payments can be made to eligible claimants as soon as state UI systems are updated to being processing the additional payments.
[August 2020 – End of $600 FPUC program] With the $600 FPUC weekly program now at an end, new payments are no longer being made after August 1st. States are catching up and processing retroactive payments however for eligible recipients who are getting state administered unemployment benefits (under regular and new programs). For details of the new $300 to $400 weekly payment extension and when payments will start making these payments you can see this article. However these Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) payments have not yet started and it will take several weeks for states to update their systems and process these enhanced benefits. Further Congress continues to discuss a more permanent extension into 2021, so lots of flux around extra unemployment benefits to the end of the year. See this page for the latest unemployment news and updates (including PUA and PEUC).
Most states have now implemented the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. Unfortunately the payout of this has been very slow and fraught with issues with many recipients (see comments below) complaining that they are yet to receive payments. Per updates below retroactive payments will be made to the beginning of April (for those who were eligible) in most states.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has now provided guidance to states for implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Compensation program that extends state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and provides a $600 p/week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) stimulus; all approved under the CARES act.
In most states existing claimants should be getting the extra $600 automatically and will be added to their normal weekly payment or sent as a separate payment to where the current UI payment goes. New claimants who are able to enroll and certify for benefits (which has been a challenge given the volume of new claims) should be seeing this payment in their upcoming unemployment check.
Delays by States in Rolling out New Unemployment Benefits
States are responsible for rolling out the new UI benefits and many are in the progress of updating policies and upgrading systems to support the new provisions. Hence the delay many unemployed Americans are experiencing when trying to file a claim. It may take till mid to late April for unemployed workers covered under the new provisions to receive these benefits. Some states have already started providing additional information. Here are some pertinent items and useful information from the major state’s unemployment departments.
Qualifying New York residents will see the additional benefit payments from April 10th. In California and Missouri, payments will start going out as early as the week ending April 12th. Officials in other states have said they have not yet figured out when they will be able to distribute the money as they are upgrading their systems and policies to accommodate the new federal PUA changes.
California Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) UI
The CA EDD has announced it will start paying the additional $600 UI stimulus from Sunday, for the week ending April 11. Claimants do not need to do anything to receive this extra funding. The EDD will automatically add the full $600 to each week of current benefits that are paid every two weeks, as long you are eligible for at least $1 in a regular payment each week. So for example, someone receiving the most recent average Unemployment Insurance payment of $340 a week, a usual biweekly payment would equal $680. With the extra payment, that biweekly payment would increase to $1,880.
The first week the additional payments can be made is for the week ending April 4, not before. Separate retroactive payments will be automatically issued soon to those who had an active claim that week, and the $600 extra payments can continue to those who remain impacted and otherwise eligible for benefits through the week ending July 31, 2020.
Jaina, posted the following 5 items confirming issues the EDD is having in making these payments:
1. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed between February 2 and March 21, but are still within the one year that your claim is good for, you could be eligible for PUA benefits for the weeks you are eligible for between February 2, 2020 and March 28, 2020. While you will not be able to apply for PUA through UI Online, the EDD will send you a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements.
2. If you received your last benefit payment for weeks you spent unemployed on or after March 21 and are still within your benefit year, you will not meet federal requirements for PUA. But the EDD will automatically file an extension claim for you as soon as it’s available since we will already have your information needed. You will receive a notice from EDD when that claim has been filed and when you can certify for PEUC benefit payments.
3. If you ran out of benefits before February 2 and are still within your benefit year, you most likely will not be eligible for PUA because you have to verify your unemployment is a direct result of the pandemic. However, you may be eligible for the new federal 13-week extension.
4. If you have run out of your benefits AND your benefit year has expired, you are encouraged to reapply for benefits through UI Online. Based on the information you provide, the EDD will determine if you qualify for a new regular UI claim based on wage data or a PUA claim.
5. If you are unable to collect regular UI benefits due to a disqualification (such as you voluntarily quit, were fired or discharged from your employer), or you are serving a false statement penalty from a past claim, you could be eligible for PUA benefits. As with group one above, you will receive a Notice of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Award and a separate document you’ll need to complete to give the EDD additional details that we don’t already have from you to meet PUA requirements.
Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page those who don’t usually qualify for regular CA Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, including businesses and the self-employed, may be eligible for the 13 weeks of extended benefits funded by the federal government. However the EDD is working through the eligibility provisions and so a lot of the newly covered worker types cannot currently file a claim since systems are not updated to accept their applications. You can see this page for the latest CA EDD filing details.
New York (NY) Enhanced UI insurance
The New York Department of Labor which manages the state’s UI payments published the following graphic which provides a good overview of how the enhanced UI benefits under the PUA and CARES act works. Payments for the enhanced benefits will begin 4/10/2020. See more information around the CARES UI provisions for NY claimants.
Texas Workforce Commission COVID-19 Stimulus Bill Update
The Texas (TX) WC provided the following graphic and timing for the enhanced payments. They are still in the process of upgrading systems but Texas Workforce Commission Director Ed Serna said that Unemployed Texans may see the big boost to their benefits from April 14th. See more information around the CARES UI provisions for Texas claimants.
Florida (FL) Department of Economic Opportunity
See more information around the CARES UI provisions for Florida claimants. Eligible claimants typically receive their UC benefits in two to four weeks for their initial claim. Benefit payments are issued via a debit card provided by the UC office or through direct deposit. Florida has been one of the states with the most number of issues in paying claims.
Gerogia (GA) DOL Seeing Delays, but will backdate UI payments
The Georgia DOL has issued guidance for self-employed workers, gig/freelance workers and 1099 independent contractors to NOT APPLY until April 10th as they confirm eligibility requirements for these workers groups who were not eligible for UI benefits under existing programs. The PUA/CARES laws have changed this. They will however backdate payments for all eligible weeks beginning March 29th. See more information here and additional comments.
Regarding the $600 supplementary UIC payment the GDOL will begin sending this additional payment to those currently receiving state unemployment benefits beginning 4/13. This supplement will be an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and will include all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. State and federal taxes may be deducted. 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).
Maryland (MD) has announced that starting Friday, April 17, everyone eligible for benefits ending the week of April 4 will begin receiving an additional $600 per week as part of the FPUC program. They have partnered with a third party vendor to expedite payments. Unemployed people will receive the $600 on top of current regular benefits. Marylander’s will begin to see the increase in their next regularly scheduled payment after April 17th.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has gotten instructions to pay the $600 UIC to qualifying Hoosiers. They will be paid retroactively to the week starting with March 29th and payable for any week of unemployment through July 31st. Payments will be added to your existing UI payment and are targeted to start from 4/20. The first payment will include retroactive payments.
Like other state UI agencies the DWD is experiencing a massive influx of calls, given how many state residents have become unemployed or partially employed for the first time in their lives.