This article was last updated on January 3
With passing of Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (COVID Relief Stimulus Bill) and additional funding for enhanced unemployment programs like the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, states can now pay up to 24 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 24 weeks is made of up 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.
When Can I Claim the PEUC extension?
In most states, due to the delays around getting the final COVID relief stimulus bill approved, it will take some time for states to update their UI systems based on DOL guidance around PEUC payments. Some states have already stated they will be making enhanced unemployment program payments in early January and I expect most to have their systems updated by mid-January 2021. Any missed payments will only be retroactively made to December 27th, 2020 when the program extension started. The diagram below shows how this would work if you are able to request payment for the week of December 27th, 2020 on or after January 3, 2021.
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.
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.
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 latest COVID relief stimulus bill.