While Georgia has started paying out all the federally funded enhanced UI benefit programs enacted under the CARES act it is well behind in processing current and backdated payments on a regular schedule. This is a known issue as their systems are having several technical glitches and struggling to handle the volume of claims. However the good news, per the comments received across several related articles (see menu), is that the number of new claims being processed has improved and more and more people are seeing some of the enhanced Unemployment benefits
The GA Department of Labor 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
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program
Georgia was approved (on August 23rd) by FEMA for the $300 weekly payment under the LWA program, which provides 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 receive $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 will be distributed in multiple batches to those who already qualified or certified for the program. The first $900 payment will be distributed and the second $900 payment will be issued by the end of the week. Payments will be available on the Way2Go Debit Card or Direct Deposit account 48-72 hours from the payment date shown on My UI portal.
The LWA program requires a one-time certification of your unemployment status as of week ending date August 1, 2020 or after. You can certify here on the GA DOL site. Claimants eligible for LWA will automatically receive LWA funds in addition to their weekly benefit amount as long they are eligible for unemployment benefits and unemployed or partially unemployed as a result of COVID-19.
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 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) provides 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.
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.
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.
This article was updated on October 7