This article was last updated on February 18
With passing of Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (CAA) and additional funding for enhanced unemployment programs like the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, states can now pay up to 11 weeks of additional unemployment benefits to individuals who have qualified for, but exhausted regular state unemployment compensation (UC) or their existing PEUC/EB claim balance.
The PEUC program is now made up of 24 weeks which includes the original 13 weeks approved under the CARES act (which expired on December 26th, 2020) and 11 additional weeks approved under the COVID relief stimulus bill from December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. In order to be eligible for PEUC benefits, claimants must also be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work assuming no Coronavirus/COVID-19 restrictions. They must also certify for each week they are claiming UI benefits.
Feb 2021 update: Many claimants who had exhausted their Regular State UI, Extended Benefits or original 13 week PEUC balance weeks are facing delays in being able to enroll and get the PEUC extension approved under the last COVID relief bill (CAA). This is a known issue and is mainly due to the states having to update their antiquated UI systems for the new legislation that requires them to check if claimants are eligible (or to to exhaust) Regular UI and Extended State Benefits before applying for PEUC.
See more in this recent PEUC video. You will have to wait for notification from your state agency before filing new or continuing claims – don’t just refile or open a new claim without official instruction to do so, or you could slip back in the line and face even longer delays. Please also review the eligibility criteria below for further information.
When Can I Claim the PEUC extension?
Several states are now making PEUC payments that include the additional 11 weeks. But due to the delays around getting the final COVID relief stimulus bill approved, it will take some time for ALL states to update their UI systems based on DOL guidance to make the required PEUC payments. Some states have already stated they will be making enhanced unemployment program payments in early January for those with active claims and I expect most to have their systems updated by mid-February. Any missed payments will only be retroactively made to the week ending January 2nd, 2021 when the program extension started.
Note that if If you have not collected unemployment benefits in a while, you may need to reactivate your account before you can resume requesting PEUC benefits. But for most people with an active claim or one that recently expired due to the existing funding running out, their UI account should be automatically transitioned to the new PEUC benefits automatically. You will not need to re-apply and your benefit amount will not change. You will need to keep certifying and/or requesting payment weekly as you currently do. But please check your UI account and state UI pages for specifics.
The last payable week for the PEUC extension will be for the week ending March 13, 2021. If you receive a PEUC payment for that week, and you have a remaining balance on your account, you may be eligible to participate in a phaseout period and collect PEUC through the week ending April 10, 2021.
How Does the PEUC 11-week extension work with State Extended Benefits (EB) and Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Those who are currently receiving PEUC benefits under the CARES act and had remaining weeks to claim as of December 27th, 2020 (start of CAA, 11-week extension), will continue to be on PEUC and their eligible weeks will be automatically extended in most states. You will get a notification if there is a delay.
Any claimant who had a balance on their PEUC extension as of 12/26/20 but had already filed a State Extended Benefits (SEB) claim early, will be automatically placed back on PEUC in order to capture the additional weeks.
Any claimant who had exhausted PEUC prior to 12/26/20 and went on SEB will stay on SEB. At the end of SEB, the claimant will be placed back on PEUC up to the expiration of the program.
Some key points to note with PEUC claims:
- You must wait for your regular state unemployment (regular and extended) benefits to expire before applying for PEUC. Once the balance of your regular UC benefits is received, you will get a notification from your state UI agency on whether the extra weeks will added to your claim balance.
- Individuals whose UC benefit year has expired will most likely need to file a new PEUC claim to get the extensions.
- After filing for PEUC, you’ll use the same weekly or bi-weekly filing/certification process that you used for regular UC.
- New PEUC claimants who had no prior PEUC claim (under CARES act) will get the full 24 week allocation of benefits, but must still use them all by the extension expiry date (April 10th), unless another extension is passed.
- Eligibility requirements for regular UC are the same for PEUC. For example, you must be
- At least partially unemployed,
- Able and available for suitable work,
- Not disqualified for voluntarily leaving work, and
- Not discharged for willful misconduct.
- You must report all work performed and gross wages earned during weeks claimed.
- You will automatically receive the extra $300 weekly FPUC payment if you get PEUC – you do not need to take any action to get this boost.
Claimant Scenarios going from PEUC 1.0 to PEUC 1.1/2.0
The following diagram (from mass.gov) shows the different PEUC scenarios when moving from the original PEUC program (PEUC 1.0) to the extended PEUC program funded under the CAA (PEUC 1.1 or PEUC 2.0).
PEUC vs. PUA
In contrast to PEUC, PUA provides UI benefits for up to 50 base weeks (+ state extended benefits) to non-salaried individuals like freelancers, contract and gig workers and others not traditionally eligible for regular state UI or PEUC. But you can only claim PUA if you have exhausted PEUC, EB or other sources of unemployment coverage. This was confirmed in the latest DOL guidelines where if you previously exhausted your claim for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and are currently filing a claim under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, you will have to reapply for the PEUC program since you can only collect PUA if you have exhausted any entitlement to PEUC.
Because of the additional PEUC benefits available, you are no longer eligible to receive PUA. If you continue to be unemployed or partially unemployed, you must reopen your existing PEUC claim. Your state UI agency will send instructions on how to do this and will vary on a state by state basis. Note that your PEUC claim may have a different weekly benefit amount versus your PUA benefit due to the differing calculations for these benefits.
$300 FPUC and PEUC
If you qualify for PEUC (or any other unemployment program) between December 27th, 2020 and March 14th, 2021 you will also be eligible for the $300 FPUC supplementary weekly payment that was funded under the CAA/COVID relief stimulus bill.