This article was last updated on February 23
The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) administers Kansans’ Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and maintains the IT programs/systems and verification process for filing and paying unemployment insurance claims. This also includes management and payment of the federally funded enhanced benefit programs – PUA, PEUC and FPUC – provided as part of COVID stimulus plans. Below are the latest payment updates.
Kansas Payment Status of the 2021 Unemployment Program Extensions (PUA, PEUC and FPUC) 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 April 5th, 2021 (no new claims after March 14th, 2021). To receive the extra $300 FPUC weekly benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA. 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 are being rolled out by KDOL in their systems and programs. The following are updates that have been made per recent news.
KS DOL updates on PUA and PEUC 11-week Extension Payments
[Update Feb 23rd] The challenges with rolling out the 11-week extension continue for Kansas’ unemployed workers continue due to antiquated IT systems at KDOL (from the 70’s) and legislation updates. They are among the last states to rollout these extensions approved at the end of 2020. See an email at the end of the article for one reader’s challenging experience to date.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly addressed unemployment concerns…saying that the state is doing its best with a broken system, but [thousands of] people aren’t satisfied. Many locals are still waiting for relief passed by Congress in December!
Due to U.S. DOL guidance and requirements, KDOL has had to write new code to update its antiquated
mainframe technology and test the solutions for program extensions.
PUA program. The PUA extension is now available to file/claim the extra 11-weeks and claimants need to log into their claimant benefits account. For those who have already applied, there is no need to reapply and just continue filing weekly claims. There are however reports that many are still waiting for their application to be processed and paid. KDOL estimates that there is an estimated backlog of 15,000 claims and there are currently close to 14,000 people who are working their way through the PUA adjudication process. Some require additional checks and documentation and KDOL is actively reaching out to and assisting people who have started but not yet completed the adjudication process.
Note that Claimants currently receiving PUA benefits who previously exhausted PEUC benefits may only collect PUA if they have exhausted any entitlement to PEUC. This was passed under the CAA legislation that extended benefits. So those who were getting PUA benefit payments may have seen their active claims cease as they would be required to apply for the PEUC program.
PEUC Program: KDOL has now (as of Feb 19th, 2021) rolled out Phase 1 of the PEUC program extension for approximately 4,800 claimants. Approximately 370 Phase Two and Three claimants will begin receiving payments beginning the week of March 1.
Any claimant who established eligibility for PEUC before Dec. 27, 2020 (including those who have exhausted PEUC and current PEUC recipients), and who continue to meet all eligibility requirements, will have 11 weeks of benefits added to their PEUC accounts (i.e. the difference between the new amount of 24 weeks and the previously-established amount of 13 weeks).
Active Claimants currently receiving benefits under the PEUC program should continue to file weekly claims if they remain unemployed. Claimants who are unemployed after Dec. 27, 2020 with a previous PEUC claim, but are no longer filing for benefits under any UI benefit program, may reopen their PEUC claims.
Claimants currently filing a claim under the PUA program who previously exhausted PEUC, and who continue to be unemployed, will need to reopen their PEUC claim because of the additional PEUC benefits available. Claimants may only collect PUA if they have exhausted all entitlement to PEUC.
$300 FPUC – Now Paying for those with active claims or who have been able to get the extra 11-weeks added to their PUA or PEUC claim. However until claimants can file a new claim or reactivate their old one, they will not get this payment. Any missed payments will be retroactively caught up for eligible weeks.
We know Kansans are struggling. We are related to, live next to, are friends with, go to church with…KDOL update on poor roll-out
folks everyday who are suffering. This is why so many of us at KDOL are working around the clock to
stabilize this old IT system and ensure we can continue to pay out Kansans their state and federal
benefits as quickly as possible….Since March 15, KDOL has paid out over 3.8 million weekly
claims totaling over $2.6 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs.
We have also been successful in eliminating the backlog of 25,000 regular unemployment claims
and are paying out new claims within an average of six business days.
KS DOL Update January 27th 2021 : KDOL has provided very limited updates (last official one on January 15th) and is in the middle of updating their state UI systems to process payments. Individuals with existing claims for regular unemployment benefits or PEUC should continue to file weekly claims. Those eligible will receive the additional $300 FPUC for weeks claimed beginning with the week ending 01/02/2021. The PUA and PEUC systems must also undergo updates to accommodate the recent extensions.
Local Kansas media are reporting that KDOL may start paying out benefits from 1/29 (starting with active claimants). This includes the extra $300 that will be retroactive to Jan 2nd and automatically added to claimant balances/payments. Claimants still need to continue filing their weekly claims to remain eligible for 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.
- 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 (see potential scenarios where you need to take action to get benefits under the new extension)
- Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims if their state UI systems have been updated for the extended coverage period.
- 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.
Can I talk to someone around getting extended benefits?
At this stage it is very hard to get a hold of anyone to talk to about your claim. They will share updates as soon as possible on the extensions and revision of the current programs. Until that time, they are asking the
public to please hold questions and refrain from calling our local offices or Hotline with questions regarding the extensions or changes. Soon, claimants will receive notices with information specific to their UI claim status.
To illustrate how bad the KS DOL rollout of these pandemic benefits has been, see this email from Brandon
Been following your site for a while, always good with latest updates. I wanted to let you know about what is going on with Kansas though specifically. Everything in the following can be found/read on KDOL’s Facebook page, where 1 post alone has 12k responses, which I post/read every day. It’s the only source of info/updates we have.
Back in December they were working on getting guidance for new extensions for PUA and PEUC. These programs as we know should have been going as early as January 2nd. This did not happen with any state and lots of states took forever to get it going. As of a few weeks ago, Kansas is the last state in entire nation to get it going. Ranked 51st, when accounting for District of Columbia.
Since December we have been lied to, told they were paying out, or that it is coming, next week. Over and over. First, they blamed “awaiting guidance” from federal side. That was found out not to be true, as internal discussions within KDOL found out. They had the money, just sitting on it. While they sat on the money, their systems were bombarded with fraud. So much so that Kansas is hardest hit fraud state in entire country.
Since at least June of 2020 (some are saying probably since March 2020) they have had 100’s of 1000’s of fraudulent claims, so much so that the system crawled to a halt over the months. Money started to trickle in to people. They had to increase their call center from 20 people to over 450, and have said average call log was 250,000 a week. They blame it on auto-dialers and bots.
So, then it was only recently discovered that the cause of this fraud was because their system, which runs on a 1970’s mainframe (literally), was extremely easy to hack. Fraudsters discovered last year that it was as simple as filling out a request for a callback and or filing a claim, but filling in someone else’s social security number, when they got the request/claim back, it would have whoever that SS number belonged to info…which then could be used to make a “legit” claim.
This scheme was found out by innocent people who accidently put wrong SS number in. A lady reported it on news last week, and it went viral. The news station did an interview with this lady.
These fraud claims are now under investigation, but their own fraud team were clueless on how people were making so many fraud claims. Kansas is saying now that it cost them an estimated 700 million paid out to these fraud claims. Final number has not been disclosed.
No one at KDOL has any idea or timeframe when payments will be updated for PEUC specifically. PUA is half working, and regular UI is also hit or miss at this time. Governor Kelley said clear back on January 22nd that payments for FPUC, the federal bonus money was being paid out. Another lie/miscommunication for 1000’s of us who have not got a dime since December.
So then after waiting all of January for payments to start going out, we waited after lie after lie for them to finally come out and say they were going to finally update their entire login system, and put us in a new 2 factor authentication system, to block/stop all the fraud. Great.
On Feb 2nd the new system came online. 10’s of 1000’s tried to navigate the new system. “most” were successful. 1000’s were not so lucky. It also supposedly blocked 100’s of 1000’s of bots/fraud accounts from accessing it. I guess that is progress. maybe.
They are using okta and Lexus Nexus for the new system which are reportedly “not great” and rumors that these companies are shady/under investigation as is. Kansas loves to go cheap.
So, under new system, its plagued by everything from not being able to log in, password reset issues, server issues. People can’t verify, can’t get past several spots in the process. Everyone had to sign up for a new account, and in theory entering your info would pull up right account. Some are reporting that it pulled up wrong account, with wrong SS number, and so this new system has a backdoor still for more fraud. yay. And people have to use/try multiple web browsers to get around server errors, people on chrome have used Firefox, some have said no browser gets them in. Others say safari, IE etc.
It’s a very convoluted system. And during all this chaos, you literally can’t get ahold of them. Calling all the hotline numbers for KDOL is worthless, as there is no hold queue, it literally says busy and hangs up on you. Since 200,000 calls are being made, the chance of getting to a live person is 1 in 100’s of calls…100’s and 100’s for some. Some people have been calling for days, weeks, even months with no luck. Then if you do get someone 99% of the time all they can do is check account, maybe fix a few things (not usually) and tell you to wait, that PEUC is not updated/working and will pay us when it is. Completely worthless.
There have been multiple news outlets reporting on this, and 1000’s have reached out to senators, congressman, representatives across the state. Many have responded, and are looking into this, it’s been massive effort by people like me, who want this to be rectified, and those responsible to be held accountable. We need answers, the latest timeline given was “PEUC will be up by end of month”.
People have lost their homes, cars, and can’t pay bills or for food. People have lost everything over this, not being paid for at LEAST 6 weeks now. No updates, no government intervention, just constantly telling us that they are paying out, and that system is now stabilizing, check back later/next week. Then they say if you haven’t gotten paid to call them….as if they are saying it’s OUR fault. The PEUC has not been implemented yet…so how do we get paid if the system is not up to get paid.
On Facebook there has been a few people saying they have gotten paid in January or in February, but only for certain weeks, and or got backpay but missing a week or 2 now. Its literally random people getting paid. On all 3 systems. What doesn’t make sense is that if PEUC is not up, then how are these people getting paid on PEUC and not others.
Some have said they on regular UI and got paid January, but not February. Some on PUA with some backpay as recent as yesterday/today. 1000’s and 1000’s have not gotten a dime in 2021, and those are people who can login and do weekly claims in the new system. There are still 1000’s that can’t even do that yet. Such a mess.
Long email but I am beyond frustrated, and been telling everyone this story/spreading the word, in hopes to find some info or figure out what is going on. If you read this email (it’s very long) and can share some insight or thoughts on what/where to go now, be much appreciated. I have not been paid since December 29th. I am currently owed ~3894$ in backpay (6 weeks)
I have not paid rent in January or February, and applying for rental assistance. My landlord is working with us, and he knows situation. He can’t even believe it’s taking this long to get paid. My bills are due this week but can hold out for a few more weeks. Just hoping/praying to get paid “by end of the month”.