This article was last updated on December 26
I have been getting lots of questions and comments around Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Payments and delays many unemployed Americans are experiencing getting their PUA payment. You can see more about the PUA program here, but here are some possible reasons for the delayed payments, especially around those getting paid via Debit Cards.
2021 PUA Extension under COVID relief Stimulus bill
You can see more around the extension in this article, but in summary the PUA program, which was due to expire on December 26th 2020, now has an extra 11 weeks of funding until March 14th, 2021. This now means that the PUA program would provide a total of 50 weeks of coverage. This does not include weeks in some states on top of this as part of state extended benefit programs. The additional funding extension also means that claims would be retroactively covered for those who missed weeks or exhausted their balances prior to December 26th. For those with remaining weeks, they will continue to be have these going forward until they hit the new 50 week maximum (plus state extended benefits).
When will I get my PUA unemployment benefit and any back dated payments (including the $600 weekly FPUC)?
Given the unprecedented spike in unemployment it is taking several weeks in most states to process UI claims. In some states like California and Florida it is taking up to 6 weeks to process PUA unemployment claims due to the massive spike in applications. This does not include claims where additional verification or issues are found, which can add several more weeks. However once the claim is approved, claimants should get their regular payment within a week and any retroactive/lump sum payments 5 to 7 days after that (assuming they are eligible). This includes back dated PUA and the $600 FPUC payment.
PUA claimants who correctly file their weekly certification will get payment within three business days in line with their state’s UI payment schedule – weekly or bi-weekly. In many states backdated PUA and other enhanced UI benefit payments will be automatically paid shortly after the first PUA payment (assuming claimant is eligible), but in several states (e.g PA) individuals will also be asked to file separately for backdated claims for previous eligible weeks. It may take two to three weeks to receive these back dated payments.
Why am I not seeing my unemployment paid on my debit card?
Most states allow eligible claimants to receive unemployment benefit payments either by debit card or direct deposit. Paper checks are an option, but not recommended due to the long payment processing times. Direct deposit is the fastest payment option, but lots of people who may not have ready access to an active bank account or for other financial reasons prefer to receive their unemployment benefits via a state UI agency provided debit card.
A debit card is administered by a financial institution on behalf of the state unemployment agency, and each state has its own vendor, so generally UI payments on debit cards take one to two days longer to process than direct deposit UI payments. The first UI payment on your debit card can take even longer since it has to be mailed out to you. Other than payment processing delays, other reasons people don’t see their UI payments as expected are due to
- Your debit card has expired (most have a three year validity term), which means you will need to request a replacement card from your state UI agency. This may require a small payment. Also note if your continuing claim was denied you may not be able to request a new debit card.
- Fraudulent activity is suspected on your UI account or debit card. You will have to request a new card in this event that could delay your weekly or bi-weekly unemployment payment.
- Weekly certifications MUST be filed every week to continue receiving payments whether via direct deposit or on a state debit card. So if you forgot to certify or had issues with your certification for a given week, your UI payment could be delayed.