This article was last updated on January 14
While Georgia has started paying out all the federally funded enhanced UI benefit programs enacted under the CARES act it is still behind in processing some backdated claims. This is a known issue as their systems are struggling to handle the volume of claims, including having to institute several additional measures to combat widespread fraud. This means, confirmed per the comments received below and other state UI pages (see menu), there are still many Georgians having issues with getting paid their enhanced unemployment benefits.
The GA Department of Labor (GDOL) manages the states’ unemployment insurance program. See further details below on the newly enhanced benefits available now and how to file a claim. And per the official GA DOL website, they are aware of the ongoing issues people are experiencing around receiving benefits in a timely manner. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said anyone who hasn’t gotten money yet under existing PUA, PEUC and EB programs should continue to call and email the Department of Labor. Officials said they are working through a backlog of cases that need more investigation. You can see this recent video (via Youtube) on the latest with GA DOL UI programs and some useful tips.
2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill
The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional federal funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment. These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks (on top of any state funded extensions), covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. To receive the $300 FPUC benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA.
Payment Update from GA DOL on 2021 Enhanced Benefits
[Updated January 14th, 2020] The GA DOL has been making several updates to their systems, but like other states rolling out the $300 FPUC, PUA and PEUC they are delays being experienced by several groups of claimants.
The GA DOL has announced that once UI systems/programs are updated they will begin paying the the new $300 FPUC to eligible claimants receiving at least $1 in weekly regular state UI, PUA, PEUC, or State Extended Benefits beginning with first payable week ending January 2, 2021.
EB and PEUC Update – If you set up an State Extended Benefits (SEB) claim on or before December 26th, you will receive all eligible weeks of SEB before converting to a Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC) claim. If you set up an SEB claim on December 27th or after, your claim will convert to a PEUC claim to receive the extension of 11 weeks of benefits. Payments cannot be released until the program specifics are completed and updated in the system. If you are eligible to receive a payment this week and have not exhausted your benefits, your payment could have been released 01/11/21 or may be released 01/12/21. Please monitor your MyUI portal for additional updates.
The GDOL is still receiving/analyzing DOL guidance on programming the 11-week extension for claimants who have exhausted PUA and PEUC benefits on or before week-ending date 12/26/20. Claimants should not file a new claim if they have exhausted benefits, but should continue to request weekly payments. The GDOL will update claimants on next steps as soon as the guidance is received and programming changes are implemented. Claimants should also continue to request weekly payments for those who have exhausted benefits or are waiting on determinations on eligibility.
Final guidelines on these programs and final eligibility including additional document verification procedures to combat Fraud have been issued by the Department of Labor and then have to be implemented by the state UI agency in their systems and programs (see GA DOL program updates status). So this could delay the actual date of payments. UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following general guidelines:
- PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the new legislation.
- The GDOL encourages claimants to continue to request weekly payments
- Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to state provisions (where applicable) should watch their state agency UI portal or website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed.
- Claimants will receive retroactive payments for all weeks they are eligible.
- Claimants currently receiving benefits through the Extended Benefits program must finish all weeks of EB before receiving additional weeks of PEUC.
I will post additional details as they are released in coming days. So stay tuned for updates.
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program – Now Fully Paid out
Georgia has paid out the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provided supplemental payments to eligible unemployment benefits claimants who have been unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Eligible claimants received $300 for each of the six weeks of the LWA Program which was only funded for 6 weeks covering the weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15, Aug. 22, Aug. 29, and Sept. 5.
Georgians started receiving payments under the LWA program from the week starting September 13th. The money was distributed in multiple batches to those who already qualified or certified for the program. At this stage all payments have been made and funding for the program has runout. New claimants who may have been eligible for the program will unfortunately be out of luck if trying to retroactively apply for the program.
If you didn’t receive your $300 LWA payment, it is likely due to the fact you didn’t have an existing weekly UI benefit determination of at least $100 from existing unemployment programs OR that you didn’t complete the certification process (above) via your UI portal. If you have confirmed the above and were eligible in the covered weeks of the LWA program, but have not yet received your LWA payment then you need to contact the GA DOL asap. You can see comments below this article for some useful tips from other GA readers.
The new LWA payment would be in addition to Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) payments currently available to unemployed workers. LWA Payments will will be retroactive to week ending August 1, 2020. See more on the GA DOL page.
COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits
Under the CARES act, the following are the types of federal unemployment assistance now available:
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has updated its current systems to distribute federal unemployment funds as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) bringing economic relief to many Georgians.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), which has now expired, provided an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs – State and Federal. The GDOL is distributing this additional payment to those currently receiving state or federal unemployment benefits. This supplement is an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and includes all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. The GDOL started issuing payments on Monday, April 13, 2020 for those currently receiving state benefits and will pay benefits retroactively for eligible recipients. The last payments, other than retroactive ones, were made at the end of July. At this stage no further $600 payments are being made.
Your payment may not be $600 weekly if you have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. 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).
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is the program that will provide unemployment benefits to individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. These individuals must be determined to be ineligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits.
Individuals determined ineligible to be paid traditional state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application or will find a link to the application in their My UI portal. Once the PUA application is submitted, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. Applicants need to request payment for all eligible weeks since the closing of their business due to COVID-19. See detailed instructions on PUA.
Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GDOL and determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits and may be potentially eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a regular state claim.
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. Claimants are potentially eligible if they have been unemployed between March 29 through December 26, 2020 and have exhausted regular state or federal benefits after July 6, 2019. Individuals must be ineligible for state or federal benefits and able and available to work.
Individuals determined eligible for the program will receive an email or letter with instructions for PEUC or could find the additional benefits already applied in their My UI portal. Claimants need to request payment for all eligible weeks on the regular state UI page at Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payment.
State Extended Benefits, or SEB, is an extension of benefits that occurs when a state meets the unemployment rate threshold for a designated period. Georgia became eligible to pay SEB May 10, 2020. However, the first payable week ending date (WED) was July 4, 2020 based on the first payable WED of PEUC was April 4, 2020 for 13 weeks. As of July 5, 2020, Georgia began a high unemployment period in the Extended Benefits program increasing the maximum potential entitlement for claimants from 13 weeks to 20 weeks. The requirements for SEB are the same as regular UI benefits. The SEB claim is like an additional or reopen claim.
Filing a Claim
New users can file a claim online (recommended) here. You can check the status of your claim here. The Georgia Department of Labor has two methods of payment available: Direct Deposit or Debit Card. If you have filed your own claim for unemployment, allow 5-7 days for the claim to be processed before attempting to claim weekly UI payments. You will receive an email confirming your claim and providing next steps for requesting your payment.
You must request a payment each Sunday thereafter to receive payments. You may do so by selecting Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments on the GDOL Home page or calling the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System at 1.866.598.4164. You must claim at least one week of benefits for a decision to be made on your claim. You must report gross wages earned and any leave pay as earnings for each week claimed for benefits. Failure to report income could result in your having to repay any over payment benefits.
How to contact someone at the GDOL for issues with your claim or payment
You can try and meet someone at a local GDOL Career Center, which are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Or see this page if you want contact numbers which includes numbers for UI customer service at 404-232-3001 or 877-709-8185.
Issues with your certification or back dating your claim
Many readers got a message (text or email) stating that the system wouldn’t allow them to certify for more than 8 weeks back. After trying to call, emailing, and searching for answers all over the internet and GDOL website, a reader (per comments below) found a possible fix.
- Go to https://dol.georgia.gov/pua . Scroll all the way to the end of the page and then back up past the orange footer section. There, you’ll find the link to certify for PUA payment each week and instructions. You’ll notice 3 pdf files that you can download. The 1st pdf is the “How to…PUA” tutorial. The 2nd pdf is “Request for Weekly PUA Payment, DOL-5158PUA” & the 3rd pdf is “PUA Backdate Request Form DOL-5168”
- From my understanding, the 3rd pdf (#5168) is needed by those who need our claim to begin at an earlier date than what our determination letter states. If your claim date is right around the same time that you became unemployed, then you don’t need that one.
- The 2nd pdf (DOL5158PUA) is identical to what you fill out online every Sunday, except it’s in paper form. So you’ll need enough blank copies to fill out one form for each week that you were unable to submit online. Be sure to use only Saturday dates and try not to enter dates that you had already completed online. Realize that if you double up on dates, it’ll not only hold up others’ payments but if you get overpaid, they’ll make you pay it back and you’ll also risk being cut off.
- Once you have a 5158 form filled out for each of your missing weeks, plus a 5168 form filled out to request a backdated claim, if needed, I suggest you make copies of everything or snap pix with your phone so you have a record of them. Then bring them all to your local career center (Not sure, but you may need an appointment).
I am still working, but my employer reduced my hours. Can I receive benefits?
Individuals whose hours have been reduced are eligible to receive benefits if your gross earnings plus the earnings allowance does not exceed your weekly benefit amount. You are required to report your gross earnings for the hours worked each week (the amount of your pay before deductions). You must report any vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, NOT the week it was paid. If your employer files a claim on your behalf, they are required to report your gross earnings,
All weekly earnings over $300.00 are deducted dollar for dollar from the benefit payment for week ending dates on or after 3/29/2020. The earnings allowance was $50.00 for week ending dates prior to 3/29/2020.
See additional FAQs from GA DOL around unemployment insurance claims and extra benefits related to COVID-19.