North Carolina (NC) DES Unemployment Benefits With Extra $300 FPUC, PUA and PEUC – 2021 Extension News and Updates

This article was last updated on January 22

The North Carolina Department of Commerce oversees a variety of economic, community, and workforce development policies and programs.  The Division of Employment Security (DES) manages the state’s unemployment insurance program by processing claims and paying benefits. See below for details on the newly enhanced unemployment benefits available and how to file a claim. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina processed an average of 3,000 unemployment claims each week.  In the months after the pandemic, the state was averaging 15 to 20 times this amount unemployment claims each week. The surge of claims taxed the system resulting in excessive hold times, dropped calls, and significant delays in processing claims.

The good news is the that DES has taken action to increase capacity in the face of this historic surge and new programs and has hired 850 additional personnel and increased its number of servers and computers. They continue to encourage new claimants to use their online services. While you may file over the phone if you don’t have access to a computer or you need help, you will experience long wait times. In August, they also required all weekly claims to be filed electronically to reduce the number of incoming phone calls. 

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 April 5th, 2021 (no new claims after March 14th, 2021). To receive FPUC benefits, you must be receiving regular UI, PEUC, EB, or PUA.

NC DES Update on Unemployment Extensions- January 23rd

The following diagram shows how to apply for the 11 week coverage per latest DES updates.

NC Unemployment Extension 2021 PUA, PEUC and FPUC

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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. So this could delay the actual date of payments.

UI claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following:

  • 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.

COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits in North Carolina

Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance available:

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for individuals who are ineligible for unemployment benefits, including independent contractors and self-employed individuals.  Recipients may receive up to 39 weeks of benefits under this program.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): adds $600 per week in addition to the regular benefits that recipients of Unemployment Insurance are entitled to receive; the benefit is retroactive to the week beginning March 29, 2020[U4] , and the program expired on July 25, 2020. 

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to recipients of regular unemployment insurance.

If you have exhausted benefits paid through the PEUC program, the Extended Benefit (EB) program covers an additional 9.6 weeks of unemployment benefits. This program runs through December 26.

In addition to the above, you may be eligible for Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) if you are out of work due to COVID-19, your current weekly benefit payment is at least $100, and you were eligible for unemployment benefits, you may receive an additional $300 in assistance.  You do not need to file a separate request; however, you may need to self-certify to confirm that you are unemployed due to COVID-19.

This benefit is provided through FEMA and is currently funded for up to 6 weeks, for the benefit weeks ending August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22, August 29 and September 5. Payments will be made retroactively to eligible North Carolinians for the covered benefit weeks. DES has started issuing payments and should complete all payments by the end of September.

Web and/or phone issues with accessing the North Carolina Unemployment system

Over 2.2 million unemployment benefit claims have been filed since March 15.  As a result, the DES has experienced an unprecedented call volume and delays in online claim processing due to required updates for federal programs. Although the DES has hired additional personnel, they strongly encourage new claimants to apply online. Effective August 24, weekly claims must be filed online.

Existing Claimants: Claimants receiving unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic must continue to certify every week to receive the additional FPUC $600/week benefit. The extra $600/week compensation is retroactive to the week beginning on March 29 and ends on July 31. FPUC payments are automatically added to the weekly benefit payment. The DES started making payments under this program on April 15.

Upon exhausting regular unemployment benefits, you must file a separate application to receive PEUC benefits. Once you’ve signed in to your account online, you will see a link to “Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.”  If you are not eligible for PEUC, you will not see this link on your account.

Claimants that have exhausted both regular unemployment and PEUC benefits may be eligible for an additional 9.6 weeks of unemployment benefits. If eligible, claimants will see a link to “Apply for Extended Benefits” on their account.

Filing a Claim

Before filing an initial claim for unemployment benefits, you must first create an account through the DES here. You will need your social security number and a valid email address to set up your account.  Once you have created a username and password, log on to complete your application.

Existing claimants log in here to file their weekly claims. Log in here to check the status of existing claims through the Claimant Self-Service portal.

To receive unemployment benefits, you must file a weekly certification.  You have up to 14 days after the end of each week that you are unemployed to file this certification. File certifications every week, even if you are waiting to hear back about eligibility on your initial claim. Starting August 23, weekly certifications may only be completed online.

If you fail to certify timely, you will not be paid unemployment benefits for this week and will be required to reopen your claim.

If there is a problem with your claim that must be resolved before benefits can be paid or you have appealed a denial in benefits, you must still certify for and claim your benefits on time. If it is determined that you are eligible or if you win your appeal, you will be paid these benefits retroactively. However, if you win the appeal but have not claimed benefits, you will not be paid for these weeks.

If you need help filing your claim or with online services, the Customer Call Center is available at (888) 737-0259.  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can be reached at (866) 847-7209.  Phone assistance is available from Monday-Friday 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM; Saturday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM

To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits in North Carolina, you must meet the following eligibility  requirements during the pandemic:

  • Unemployed due to no fault of your own
  • Earned enough wages to be eligible for unemployment benefits

You can also apply by phone.  

When applying your initial claim online, you will need the following information :

  • Social Security Number
  • Details about your most recent separation from employment including any vacation or severance pay that you received, are entitled to receive or will receive
  • Any retirement payments, including the gross monthly amount and proof
  • If you would like your unemployment payments directly deposited into your bank account, you will need to provide your bank routing number and account number.  If you decide not to deposit your unemployment payments into your bank account directly, your payment will be loaded onto a DES-issued debit card
  • Employment history for the past 24 months, including:
    • Employers’ business names as they appeared on your paycheck
    • Physical and payroll address for each employer
    • Telephone number
    • First and last date that you worked for each employer
    • Rate of pay for each employer
    • Reason you are no longer working for each employer
  • Former federal employees who worked in a federal position during the last two years should submit SF-50 form, SF-8 form, pay stub(s), or a W-2. If you don’t have this information available when you are filing your initial claim, you can submit this later.
  •  Former military personnel should submit their DD214, Member 4 Copy. If you don’t have this when you file your initial claim, you will be able to present this copy later.
  • Alien Registration number and the date your work authorization expires if you are not a US citizen

I filed my unemployment claim several weeks ago. Will I receive back pay once my claim is approved?

The DES has taken steps to improve its claim processing time. Yet, with the large volume of claims submitted each day, they continue to be delayed. The FPUC $600 per week additional benefit expired during the week of July 25. If you have filed an unemployment claim before that date and are still awaiting a response regarding your eligibility for unemployment, you will receive retroactive payments for the back weeks of FPUC even if the decision is not made until after the July 25 expiration date. 

If you are not eligible for regular unemployment, you may be able to collect benefits under the PUA program.  To determine eligibility, you must file a new unemployment insurance claim if you have not already done so. Once your eligibility is determined, you may complete the PUA application through a link in your online account. You should continue to file weekly certifications during this process. If you are eligible for PUA benefits for weeks that have already passed, you may recover back pay due to you if you submitted weekly certifications.

Can I still collect unemployment benefits if I’m returning to work at reduced hours?

Individuals who return to work at reduced hours may still be eligible to collect partial unemployment benefits. You must continue to file your weekly certification and report any of your wages in the week they were earned, not received. Wages earned may reduce your unemployment benefit.

What does it mean if my claim status shows as “Pending”?

When you file an initial unemployment claim, the last employer that you worked for has ten days to respond to the DES.  During this time, your claim will show as “Pending.” If your employer responds within the ten days, your claim will be processed based on their response.

If they do not respond and the reason for your unemployment is due to COVID-19, the system will automatically move forward in the process. If you meet the eligibility requirements, unemployment benefits will be paid out, and your former employer is notified of the outcome. If they disagree with the assessment, your past employer could appeal the determination.

See additional FAQ from the North Carolina Department of Commerce about unemployment benefits.

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29 thoughts on “North Carolina (NC) DES Unemployment Benefits With Extra $300 FPUC, PUA and PEUC – 2021 Extension News and Updates

  1. I am currently receiving Extended Benefits and have roughly 8 weeks remaining. I have read the Extended Benefits program is scheduled to end on February 20th in North Carolina due to a lower unemployment rate. Will I still receive my remaining weeks through the program or will my pay stop on February 20th? If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Based on federal guidelines, the last week for which North Carolina can pay Extended Benefits to claimants is the week ending Feb. 20, 2021. So yes you cannot be paid after that week (even if you have weeks remaining). But would qualify to return to the PEUC program when the EB program ends. PEUC benefits are available through the week ending March 13, 2021.

  2. I was on PUA because I didn’t get approved for UI because I’m self employed and my benefits ran out on December 26th. So I contacted them and they did another UI application because the PUA extension wasn’t there and I haven’t been getting any money , there is two weeks under the UI that I filed, but then they told me later that why did I not have the PUA just reactivated so they reactivated my PUA and I have a balance of over $1200 in there. I haven’t been paid since December 26th thru now February 10th, 2021 and it shows that my pua is open and I got a letter saying I was approved for benefits, but when I go on there not only is the PUA showing open and I got approved for it but now the UI claim is pending. I’m able to certify for my weeks under the PUA claim and have been for seven weeks now but I’m still not getting paid at all even though I got a letter saying I was approved and my pua under the claim status says exhausted! I have tried to call and have over 50 screenshots and an agent told me twice that I would be paid in 24/48 and that’s been three weeks ago. NCDES has no idea what they’re doing and I don’t know what else to do about getting paid! I’ve contacted the Gov, Lieutenant Gov, and two news troubleshooters and I haven’t heard anything yet! I’m about to lose my car, I have to have it paid by Feb 16th, 2021 for two months worth and I can’t lose my car! Please help someone and tell me what I can do! Like I said it shows a balance under my PUA and I can file weekly certifications but my claim status says exhausted, I received a letter approving me a week ago, I didn’t get a monetary determination bc I guess I’m self employed and I’ve been on PUA this whole time, and then there is the UI that shows is pending on my claimant home page while my PUA says open too! Help!! Please tell me why they haven’t paid me in a total of 9 weeks now! I can’t wait any longer and I’m tired of being told something different by every single agent and get the runaround! I can’t take it anymore! If I could drive up there I would tomorrow but they said we can’t!

  3. I filed a back date claim from March til June because I had no idea I could sign up due to daycare being shut down and my no one to watch my son. I started back to school last year so unfortunately I only received 70$ in state benefits. In Sept I still had heard nothing about my back date claim so an agent filed a whole new claim and approved it. I was told by 6 different people 3 weeks in a row the weekly claims would generate when they did their fact findings and they had til Sept 28th. Oct still nothing. Finally I get ahold of someone else and I was told they only pay 2wks of back pay. I don’t understand why others got it under pua but under state benefits they have screwed me royally! Also I can’t seem to get a straight answer from des your told something different every time you call. If my 12wks of state benefits along with the puec, and eb have all 3 exhausted will I get the extra puec weeks like everyone else seems to have got who fell under the pua? I’ve had a pua claim pending since MAY & nothing has been said or done. I don’t think some of them know whats going on when you get a different answer everytime it makes me wonder! Thanks!

  4. My initial claim was filed in June, because I worked for a private school with a childcare center. We intended on reopening in June. But they didn’t until August. My last day actually worked was 3/13/2020. I was never contacted by anyone about my initial claim. I tried calling several times and got nothing. I ‘reopened’ my own claim 9/29/2020 and was framed eligible within 24 hours, and received back pay for that month. Can I still be paid retroactively for the months between my initial claim and the ‘reopened’ claim? I can’t get a straight answer from anyone with DES.

    1. You can get back pay. But for the new 2021 extension the backpay or retroactive pay can only go until the start of the coverage period (Dec 27th, 2020)

  5. I didn’t receive a payment for the week of Sept 5th due to an incorrect answer on the lost wages certification . They are telling me there is no way to correct that certification because its federal through Fema ,now the funds are exhausted so is there any way to correct this ?

    1. The only way to correct this is by calling them and getting them to update. Funding should be available for retroactive payments – but new claims will have a challenge which is what it looks like they are telling you. Contact your local state official to raise this.

      1. I’m trying to figure how I meet the requirements been getting unemployment since may and was told it was first come first serve that money was for us who meet the requirements so y is it that it’s a first come first serve deal sound like to me they keeping some of that money

  6. There given out false information even if you are eligible and meet all the requirements you still might not get LWA the deadline web site says it paid out to eligible North Carolinans its a lie I meet all the requirements and was told it was a first come first serve

  7. I got the 900 now I want to know when I should expect the 300

  8. I was receiving UI benefits for the weeks that they are paying LWA for but my claim exhausted the same week they began issuing the LWA Will I still receive it for the weeks that I was eligible

  9. I haven’t recieved any of my LWA yet I’m in NC. I am approved for $85 UI and $132 in PUA so I should get the $900 lump sum and the additional 300 a week?

    1. If your UI is only $85 you may not be eligible for the $300 LWA. You must receive at least $100 to qualify for it.

  10. I get a gross weekly amount of 92$ is that enough to qualify for the 900 back pay and or 300 a week? I have heard people who get 90$ and they got it but in different states

    1. No. The minimum is $100. I feel like that’s ridiculous because everyone should be eligible

      1. I’m been getting unemployment since may of 125 and was eligible and was told every one that was eligible still didn’t get it which makes no since

  11. Are they issuing in alphabetical order because I haven’t received anything yet

  12. They approved the 4th week of lwa and should receive the payment the day after you do your weekly certification

    1. where did you find this info? All I want is a website or something that has information on it.

  13. I recieved the 900 lump sum and I’m trying to find out if they are going to pay for the fourth and fifth week of lwa and when I can’t find any information on north Carolina sites about it.

    1. They will pay it once FEMA funding comes through. But lots of steps to process payments and delays are to be expected as a week to week event for additional weeks. Most people are facing the same challenges

    2. I’m with you. I can’t find any information. Georgia apparently is getting 6 weeks, and a few other states atleast 5 have been approved. I got 900 on the 6th but I want to find out if we’re getting the 4th and 5th weeks?

  14. I received the $300 payment but did not receive the retro pay ($900). I am wondering if I should call or just wait.

    1. Same for me. North Carolina unemployment just told me they do not have a date yet for the payment of the $900.

  15. Was wondering why i only received paymants for the 8th and 15th But not the 1st. Any idea why?

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