Many self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers who had been made eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under Enhanced Unemployment provisions within the CARES act are still waiting and unable to file claims several weeks after the law was passed. This is due in part to the late release of Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines around the CARES act pandemic unemployment provisions. But the inability to file claims for the 25 million or so Americans who would be classified as these worker types is now mainly due to delays in states updating their unemployment guidelines and systems to handle the new federal DOL guidelines covering these types of workers. The systems need to be updated to allow online claims to validate work history and wages earned over a predetermined qualifying period which is needed to establish eligibility for unemployment compensation.
To be fair state unemployment agencies have been deluged by an unprecedented flood of claims from millions of laid-off workers as a result of the Coronavirus induced slowdown. As a result they are also struggling to manage existing claimant groups while trying to deal with new workers. And because every state administers their own programs and system, each state is addressing and resolving these issues at different rates.
States are working hard, often with third party vendors, to update back-end systems to begin enrolling these new group of unemployed workers. There are two key programs that need to be rolled out, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) stimulus program that extends state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits by 13 weeks and provides a $600 p/week supplementary payment respectively. The Enhanced Unemployment programs were modelled on the existing disaster unemployment assistance programs but the getting systems updated has been a big lift for many states since they typically do not provide jobless benefits to independent contractors and the self-employed. Especially because validating their job history, wages and employers can be very challenging. The table at the end of this article shows where states are with getting the FPUC payment active.
Most state government leaders have however acknowledged this issue and the new claim filing situation has become so bad that many states are telling this group of workers to wait until the new applications are updated before going online to file their claims. This also means they won’t be eligible for the additional $600 stimulus payment valid till July 30th, 2020. If they try and file many are being rejected as they are still considered ineligible under the old system rules and guidelines.
For many the unemployment compensation means having food on the tables for their families versus going hungry and potentially homeless. So the stakes are high. Have you been impacted by this if you classified in this group? Please share your experience and any tips on filing for unemployment benefits.
|State||Maximum PUA Amount|
|District of Columbia||$444|
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