With funding for the weekly $300 Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program having run out after only six weeks and the $600 FPUC payment expiring back in July most Americans are going to go back to relying on regular and pandemic unemployment benefits available mainly through their state. This includes the following:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Provides 39 to 46 weeks of benefits for freelance, gig and contract workers who would normally NOT have been eligible for state unemployment programs. Workers who get PUA are not concurrently eligible for PEUC or Extended State Unemployment benefits. Unemployment claims for PUA will be backdated and paid retroactively to the first week during the PUA period in which an employee was unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable and unavailable to work due to COVID-19.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)—An additional 13 weeks on top of regular state unemployment for a total of 39 weeks of coverage in most states if you have exhausted other benefits. This is available to people who generally would qualify for regular state unemployment and cannot be claimed if an unemployed person is eligible for PUA.
- Extended State Unemployment Benefits (EB)— Provides an additional 13 additional weeks of benefits when a state is experiencing high unemployment. Some states have also enacted a voluntary program to pay up to 7 additional weeks (for a total of 20 weeks maximum) during periods of extremely high unemployment. Note that extended state benefits are only available after people have collected all regular Unemployment Insurance benefits as well as any PEUC benefits they were eligible for. But if the unemployment rates drops below high unemployment thresholds in a state, the EB benefit coverage weeks may drop or cease. See the current levels of EB benefits available by state.
Another important item to note is that millions of Americans have not yet been paid or claimed the benefits they could be entitled to. So if you have been unemployed or lost wages this year due to COVID you need to pursue your claim (and I know its been tough) and ensure you get paid retroactively for weeks you are eligible.
Claiming Retroactive $300 LWA and $600 FPUC back payments
If you haven’t yet claimed or didn’t realize you were eligible for the $300 LWA payment (covering weeks from August 1st 2020 to September 5th 2020) or the $600 FPUC program (Early April to the end of July) then you must act quickly and file a claim to check if you meet the eligibility requirements for the above UI programs. The Department of Labor has said hundreds of thousands of American’s may be eligible for the enhanced unemployment benefit programs in 2020 and need to act fast to get their money before funding runs out.
Congressional Extension of Unemployment Benefits
Despite the above programs availability for the rest of the year, many unemployed or under-employed Americans this could see a 50% to 133% drop in supplementary weekly unemployment benefits based on the state they live in. While Congress is discussing an extension in extra unemployment benefits (as part of a new stimulus plan) it will likely mean many unemployed Americas are seeing much smaller unemployment benefit payments for the next few months.
This article was updated on October 25