This article was last updated on January 11
With the extension of enhanced unemployment programs under the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (COVID Relief Bill) many readers are asking if they need to take any action to get the extra 11 weeks of coverage or supplementary $300 payment between December 27th, 2020 and March 14th, 2021. Based on recent Department of Labor guidelines to state unemployment agencies we can infer what actions claimants need to take (if any) based on the status of their claim as of week ending December 26th, 2020. This date is important since it is the end of funding under the CARES act (prior stimulus bill which funded these enhanced UI programs). The new COVID funding relief bill only funds payments after this date starting from December 27th, 2020. Since state unemployment agencies and departments are updating their systems for the new changes you will have to be patient on getting paid and being able to certify for the extended weeks.
Scenario: Actively filing for PUA as of Dec 26th, 2020 (i.e. have a remaining balance) with no previous PEUC claim
If you are currently filing a claim under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, your coverage has now been extended from 39 weeks to 50 weeks. This excludes any weeks of unemployment compensation (UC) or Extended State Benefits (EB) you may have been eligible for since January 27, 2020. No action is needed in this scenario to receive additional extended benefit weeks. Claimants should continue to file your claim and certify each week.
UI claimants who have had a significant gap in getting unemployment benefits or exhausted their original PUA benefits prior to or before December 26th, 2020 will be able to file for the extended weeks once their state UI system has been updated with the new extensions and associated program changes (see FPUC state tracker). Depending on state they may have to reopen, refile or reactivate their claim. Additional PUA benefits may only be collected for weeks ending on or after December 27, 2020.
Example (Active PUA claim): Mike was getting PUA and in continued filing status up through the week ending 12/26/20, and still had a balance remaining. With the new legislation and funding, Mike can continue to file his weekly certifications beginning with the week ending 1/02/21. He won’t have to reopen his claim. He will also be eligible to get the additional $300 extra FPUC payment.
Example (Exhausted PUA claim balance): Charlene exhausted her PUA benefits on 12/12/2020 and has a zero claim balance. She was unable to get any extended state benefits. In this situation, Charlene will need to wait for her state to implement the new PUA changes (i.e. additional documentation requirements to fight fraud) before being able reopen or reactivate her existing claim. If she is in a new benefit year, she may have to file a new claim and be denied for regular UI before getting PUA. In either situation her state UI agency will provide directions on next steps, but Charlene will likely face delays due to the time it will take states to roll out the new extensions. [I will keep posting updates on this site and encourage you to subscribe to get the latest news]
Actively filing for PUA with previous PEUC claim: Action is needed from the claimant
If you previously exhausted your claim for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and are currently filing a claim under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, you will have to reapply for the PEUC program since you can only collect PUA if you have exhausted any entitlement to PEUC. Because of the additional PEUC benefits available, you are no longer eligible to receive PUA. If you continue to be unemployed or partially unemployed, you must reopen your existing PEUC claim. Your state UI agency will send instructions on how to do this and will vary on a state by state basis. Note that your PEUC claim may have a different weekly benefit amount due versus your PUA benefit to the differing calculation to state UI benefits.
Actively filing for PEUC: No action is needed from the claimant
If you are currently filing a claim under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program the maximum amount of benefits available under the PEUC program increased from 13 weeks to 24 weeks. If you are in this situation with an active claim balance (up to and including the week ending December 26th, 2020) no action should be necessary and you start UI agency will start paying benefits from December 27, 2020. If may take a week or two for your state agency to start paying benefits, which will be retroactively caught up.
Individuals no longer filing or have exhausted their unemployment benefits: Action is needed from the claimant
If you are unemployed or partially unemployed after December 27, 2020 you will need to reopen your PUA or PEUC claim to get coverage for the 11 weeks of extended coverage. They will need to go to their state specific UI site to file their claim or reactivate an existing claim. The process and documentation requirements will vary by state.
Actively filing for Extended Benefits: No action is needed from the claimant
If you had previously exhausted your claim for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and are currently filing a claim under the Extended Benefits (EB) program, no action is needed from you right now. Continue to file your claim each week for the EB program. If you later exhaust EB and continue to be unemployed or partially unemployed, you may be eligible to reopen your PEUC claim and collect these additional benefits.
Getting the $300 FPUC Payment. No action is needed from the claimant
Starting with week ending January 2, 2021, if you are eligible for at least $1 of your underlying unemployment benefit amount for any week of unemployment, you will also receive a $300 supplemental payment under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. You do not need to take any additional action to receive this supplemental payment and will get it once your state UI agency updates their systems to make this payment (see the $300 FPUC state payment tracker)
Getting the $100 Mixed Earners Compensation Payment: Action is needed from the claimant
If you were previously self-employed you may be eligible for an additional $100 supplemental payment under the Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. If you are eligible for the MEUC program and are paid at least $1 of your underlying unemployment benefit amount for any week of unemployment, you will also receive a $100
supplemental MEUC payment. This is provided in addition to FPUC. After you submit documentation and the state confirms your information, you do not need to take any additional action to receive this supplemental payment. Continue to file your claim each week for the unemployment benefit you are currently receiving.