With federal unemployment benefits expiring after the week ending September 4th in states that didn’t end pandemic benefits early, many are asking what will happen to their active claim balance if they have weeks left after the expiry date.
The answer unfortunately is that active balances under the PUA and PEUC programs will expire or go unused without any grace period unless another extension to the enhanced unemployment benefit program is funded at a federal or state level. At this stage the Biden administration is not extending benefits at a federal level and leaving this decision to state leaders.
This is despite many claimants, who started or continued claims this year under one or more of the extended federal unemployment programs, having remaining weeks come September 6th (official legislated end date). Contacting your state unemployment agency for remaining balances won’t be of much help either as the sudden end of benefit payments is per federal law as stated in DOL guidelines.
Note that PEUC claimants may also be able to move to a state’s extended benefits program, if available. Further, per guidance from the Biden administration, states can use APRA COVID relief funds to expand coverage of traditional state unemployment programs.
State Unemployment Extended Benefits Programs
Regardless of when claims started and how many weeks of PEUC claimed (up to the 75 week maximum), ALL enhanced benefit programs are currently set to expire September 4, 2021. However in many states like New Jersey, eligible claimants that have not collected all their state extended benefits (EB) will transition to the state’s EB program once PEUC expires.
Unfortunately, unless states expand benefit programs coverage, PUA claimants will not qualify for state extended unemployment benefits.
Unemployment Retroactive Payments
One thing that will remain in place even without a post-September extension is back pay for weeks claimants were eligible and are able to successfully certify. There are however constraints around how far back you can file for retroactive benefits based on which unemployment extension period you are claiming weeks under.
Further the process in states varies and if you are going back several periods you will likely need to seek manual intervention from a state UI agency representative to process your claim given how antiquated some of the processing systems are.
When Could an Extension Be Confirmed?
The Biden Administration has now confirmed that they won’t push at a federal level or via executive order to extend enhanced unemployment programs (PUA and PEUC) past the September 6th expiration date.
They are instead encouraging states with high unemployment or hit hard by COVID-19 Delta to use existing ARPA stimulus funding to extend and expand traditional state unemployment benefits for as long as needed. You can see more on this in this video.
States will have to provide guidance on expanded benefits or move to state extended benefit programs prior to early September to ensure a continuation of benefits. So stay tuned as updates come out and I will update on state-by-state basis.