Enhanced 2020 Unemployment Insurance Benefit Payments and 2021 Extensions to Tackle Coronavirus Fallout – FPUC, PEUC and PUA


[Update – Further Extensions of Unemployment Benefits] All states have implemented the federally funded PUA, PEUC and FPUC programs to supplement their state unemployment programs. While the roll-out has been less than stellar and many at still struggling to even get more than one UIC payment, millions of jobless American are relying on the supplementary unemployment benefits and broader coverage to make ends meet. One in particular is the $600 FPUC program, which is set to expire at the end of July 2020. There have been several ideas to extend the program, but Congress is mired in party line political debates and needs to act much faster to extend the $600 payment before it expires or provide an alternative offering that supports those who have no jobs due to a resurgence of COVID while also encouraging people to go back-to-work.

I’ll post updates as they come through, but the good news is the retroactive/back-payments are being made for those eligible for payments in weeks they were unemployed and that thanks to the PUA program, existing state UI benefits have been made available to the end of the year. Also for those still dealing with issues around getting their unemployment checks, here are some alternative ways to get in contact with your local state UI agency.

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[Updated with the final CARES act provisions] Under the recently enacted $2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill (CARES act) unemployment insurance coverage will be extended and supplemented as follows:

  • Under an existing provision known as the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) state-level unemployment insurance will be extended by an additional 13 weeks thanks to federal funding under the CARE stimulus bill. So state unemployment maximum benefits that normally last 26 weeks for example, would now last up-to 39 weeks. The extended benefits will last through Dec. 31, 2020 and also allow those who have exhausted their regular state benefits to get an additional 13 weeks of benefits.
  • Under Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provisions an additional payment of $600 per week on top of the current and extended regular state UI benefits will be provided through to July 31, 2020.
  • Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision eligibility rules for claiming unemployment benefits and compensation have also been expanded to cover more workers, including contractors, freelance/“gig” workers and those who are self-employed. You will have to first apply for regular state UI, and be ineligible or denied for that, before being eligible for the PUA program. This will also cover jobless Americans who qualify for at least 39 weeks.

The extra $600 FPUC funded boost in particular is nearly double the current UI maximum payment in many states (see state level maximums) so has created some controversy whereby some lower income workers may get more via unemployment than through their normal wages.

When will the $600 Unemployment Benefit Payment Start?

The $600 benefit payment is now being paid by all states and will generally be paid with your standard state unemployment benefit. You can see the table below for payment dates by states, including links to more information. Note that if you have already exhausted your current state UI benefits, you will still be eligible for this additional/extra temporary benefit boost as it is federally funded under the CARES stimulus bill.

Most state unemployment agencies and labor departments have implemented the enhanced unemployment provisions under guidance from the Federal Department of Labor (DOL). However antiquated state unemployment filing systems and websites have not been easy to update in such a short duration, meaning that claimants have faced long wait times and failures in being able to file a claim. If you already receive UI benefits you will automatically be added to the new stimulus programs if eligible and receive these payments as you currently do. Others or newly unemployed will need to (re-)apply for the UI payments.

Self-employed, independent contractors and nonprofit employees, or those that are otherwise ineligible for state UI benefits or those who have exhausted state and federal benefits may be eligible for enhanced benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Individuals who have the ability to telework and receive pay or individuals who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits will not qualify for the PUA benefits.

Will I get the full $600? The $600 is added to whatever amount you are currently getting, whether it’s the minimum or the maximum. So for example even if you are only getting $50 a week in unemployment benefits today you will still get the full $600 through the next four months which is mandated in the CARES bill. This means those only getting partial UIC benefits (at least $1) like part time workers earning below the maximum weekly benefit amount for their state will be eligible for this supplemental payment till July 31st 2020.

Also note that the $600 is paid retroactively. Payments are effective starting with the week ending 4/5/20. So, if it takes your state UI agency until mid-April to actually start the payments, they will be retroactive back to 4/5/20. The $600 only applies to those who are receiving unemployment benefits. If your state said that you don’t qualify for UI, then you do not get the $600 either. The bill also waived the 7 day waiting period for new claims. So you can file as soon as you get laid off or lose income as a self employed person.

StateMaximum PUA Amount
District of Columbia$444
New Hampshire$427
New Jersey$713
New Mexico$511
New York$504
North Carolina$350
North Dakota$618
Puerto Rico$190
Rhode Island$586
South Carolina$326
South Dakota$414
West Virginia$424

[April 2020 update] With over 2.25 unemployment claims filed in the last week along, America is facing not only a health crisis, but a Jobs one as well.

The recently passed Families First Cronavirus Response Act has resulted in several economic stimulus measures, once of which is Enhanced unemployment benefits. The bill provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

$500 million of the additional funding would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs, so long as they met basic requirements about ensuring access to earned benefits for eligible workers.

How unemployment insurance works and how to qualify

It mainly depends on where you live because states administer the Unemployment insurance program. But often get help, per the bill discussed above, from the federal government to bolster the state’s UI program and availability of benefits.

Eligibility and benefits are generally calculated as a percentage of your income over the past year, up to a certain maximum. The benefits or UI payment is between 14 and 26 weeks, but can be extended by supporting federal funds.

States would be required to report on the share of eligible individuals who received UI benefits and the state’s efforts to ensure access within one year of receiving the funding. The funding would be distributed in the same proportions as regular UI administrative funding provided through annual appropriations.

The remaining $500 million would be reserved for emergency grants to states which experienced at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment. Those states would be eligible to receive an additional grant, in the same amount as the initial grant, to assist with costs related to the unemployment spike, and would also be required to take steps to temporarily ease eligibility requirements that might be limiting access to UI during the COVID-19 outbreak, like work search requirements, required waiting periods, and requirements to increase employer UI taxes if they have high layoff rates.

This article was updated on July 18

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256 thoughts on “Enhanced 2020 Unemployment Insurance Benefit Payments and 2021 Extensions to Tackle Coronavirus Fallout – FPUC, PEUC and PUA

  1. I filed an regular unemployment claim in January but was denied. I only recently found out about the Pua claim. I was granted the claim… My question is if its possible to get back pay… N if so how much. Im on Missouri btw

    1. Contact your nearest congressman. It worked 4 me. Got 2 different lump sums 1 week apart. Send all back details. They should be able to help you

  2. I live in Illinois and my 26wk benefits just ran out last week. It caught me completely off guard as I had heard so much about extensions. I didn’t know what happened until my check only covered one week of certifications and not two. A few days later I got a letter in the mail explaining that I ran out and suggesting I call the office to see if I should file in another state, I assume because most of my earnings are from out of state My claim time isn’t up until November. I keep hearing that the 13 wks peuc will start automatically but if so why was their a gap and why haven’t I heard anything from ides? On their call back list but that definitely doesn’t even guarantee I’ll speak to someone within 6 weeks. What kind of time frame is involved with an extension approval like mine? Any specific knowledge pertaining to the chaos of IDES and peuc? Please help with any info, I’m so stressed about this.

  3. I appiled for UI unemployment benefits and was denied so I was directed to apply for PUA benefits. Took 3 days and I checked my UI portal and it’s saying Program: PUA
    Gave me a (WBA) $149
    Start of claim 2/04/2020
    And (39) potential weeks. So I’m thinking I have been approved so I went back all the to start date and claimed every week all the way up to date. And I have no payments posted in my PUA payment summary. But other people have been claiming and they are getting their weekly payments. So I’m wondering if I was even approved? Or what I need to do to get paid for the weeks I have claimed

    1. You are approved and you money is on its way. You will receive a depot card in the mail. I’ve heard that the day you certified for back benefits is the day the Bank of America shipped your debit card.
      It take roughly 7-10 days after you first certified.
      You’ve done everything you’re supposed to your card will arrive with all your back pay it should be close to $20,000.

      Keeps checking the mail. Your card will arrive any day! *After your card arrives makes sure you certify for benefits every two weeks inorder to continue receiving deposits every 2 week until the end of the year! Congratulations!

  4. I’ve been a self-employed veterinarian who does house calls for dogs & cats. My practice came to a screeching halt in Feb/March & I applied as directed (DOL online) and received monthly PUA funds which were MUCH needed. I also collect Social Security (I’m 66 yrs old) but that monthly amount is meager and I’d planned to continue working until I was at least 70 to make ends meet. Now that the Federal PUA funds have been discontinued I’m probably below the poverty level. I am desperate to have the continued Federal funds for the foreseeable future. Whenever there’s a veterinarian job opening there are lots of vets in their 20s, 30, 40s & 50s who are more likely to be hired than I am. I am the Poster Child for “Who Needs Federal PUA” due to their place of employment (client’s homes) being closed. I’m in the Athens, GA, area.

    1. I am sorry to hear about your situation, but from your description about your work losses, seems to me you NEED to apply for PUA (program beginning date February 4th 2020 to December 26th 2020) Depending what state you live in you can collect for 13 upto 20 weeks (Texas 20weeks extension) after December 26th
      In short PUA (,Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) is expanded eligibility unemployment program- so basically it still is an active program APPLY
      Make sure you turn in all documents such as yearly taxes, proof of loss income such as receipts from your job services, so you won’t get stuck on a “pending account”
      Good luck, I hope everything works out

  5. Filed May24th and still no decision as of Aug.8th in TN.Calls are either dropped,ignored ,or sent to voicemail thats never returned.Same with emails,and their live chat is a joke.Guess I’m just out of luck.

  6. Hi. I’m collecting PUA here in Pa. I am self employed and haven’t worked since March. I was able to get back pay from mid March to present. Now that the stimulus is ending on July 31st what do I need to do to keep collecting PUA?

  7. I am in Georgia i received unemployment for 12 weeks now do i have to reapply to get the 13 more weeks extended.

  8. I received unemployment am am at 12 weeks do i have to reapply for the extension for 13 more weeks or what do i have to do next

  9. Hello. For Tennessee Unemployment. My BYE is approaching. I Still Have Funds Available. Do I need to reapply, or get an extension? And in the process do I still qualify for PUA while waiting to get reapproved? Thank you


  11. Question: I’m a single parent with my 5yo home from school for who knows how long. I used to be the head of Sales & Marketing for a conference center, but am anticipating it will be more than a year until it reopens. I was laid off in April and have been collecting NYS UI and PUA since. I am considering applying for SEAP to launch my own marketing business. I’ve received about 11 weeks of UI benefits so far, so the time is now. However, I’m concerned that it may be difficult for me to launch my business full-time by October (which is when I would hit 26 weeks of employment, usually the SEAP max), if I’m distance learning with my daughter full-time. If I am accepted into SEAP, would I be able to claim UI benefits through the end of the year with the CARES Act 13-week extension to 39 weeks? Or would I be kicked off of UI in October having exhausted the 26 weeks? Any insight would be a huge help!!

  12. I’m trying to figure out how to file for the extra 13 weeks my claim was exhausted this week and I don’t know if it doesn’t automatically or do I have to just reapply again I am from New Jersey and I know each state has different laws but I’m just trying to see if anyone has an answer out there thank you

    1. No you do not have to reapply just continue to certify your weekly claim as you would normally

  13. My place of business did not have work due to closing for corona virus on March 16 2020. I had been working since September 2019. After filing a claim in June 2019. Because I reopened the claim I had in June I may not b eligibility for 13 week extension. Then when I go to the simulated questions on New Jersey unemployment site my scenario would have been to open a new claim this was not posted when I reopened a claim. Now I hav to wait for instructions from them can’t get to a live perso n. Also haven’t received my last 600. Fed

  14. Dont forget to fill out your weekly vouchers so you can get your check if you dont fill out your vouchers by sunday of every week you wont get paid!!

  15. I live in Memphis Tennessee my unemployment has exhausted how do I apply for extensions

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