This article was last updated on January 1
With the passage of the new COVID relief stimulus bill many people are asking if the additional funding of enhanced unemployment benefits will mean retroactive or back payment of UI benefits to dates when similar programs expired or when benefit claim balances were exhausted. Based on recent DOL guidelines, the 11 week funding extension to these program will only cover payments from the week starting December 27th, 2020 (week ending January 2nd, 2021) However people who file new or corrected claims after this date can backdate claims to the start of December 2020; but retroactive payment for these backdated claims are not part of the funding from the COVID relief bill and there are some important considerations as discussed below.
Retroactive Supplementary Unemployment Insurance – $300 Extra FPUC
The new stimulus bill provides supplementary unemployment insurance via additional funding for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. This was originally enacted under the CARES act for a weekly $600 payment. A variation of supplementary was then enacted via Executive order under the $300 LWA program. The new $300 FPUC payment for 2021, above and beyond what people get via regular or enhanced pandemic unemployment, will only be retroactive to the start date of the new program extension date in the same manner as the two previous supplementary UI benefit programs.
Given there is funding for 11 weeks, starting from Dec 27th 2020, it would be retroactive only to that date and for a maximum of eleven weeks. Some had thought Congress may make this payment retroactive to when the LWA expired (September 5th) or to the beginning of December, but in the final bill and per DOL Guidelines it only covered the weeks from December 27th to March 14th. You can see details of the payment in this article, including other eligibility criteria. Additional information is also in this video summary. Note you will need to certify for all current and past weeks to get the extra payment for the given weeks covered by this program.
Retroactive Back Payments for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
Unlike the $300 FPUC program which is considered supplementary unemployment insurance, the PUA and PEUC programs provide Americans with extended coverage to existing (state administered) unemployment programs. The PUA program is for gig workers and freelancers who were not covered by state unemployment benefits in the past, while PEUC extends regular unemployment coverage for mostly W2 (i.e salaried) workers.
Both the PUA and PEC programs were funded/extended for another 11 weeks under the new stimulus bill to provide a total of 50 weeks of coverage (some states have additional weeks on top of this as part of state extended benefit programs). The current PUA and PEUC programs were due to expire on December 26th, 2020 so the current funding extension will keep them going to March 14th, 2021.
Eligible claimants with remaining balances (active claims) can claim final payments for until April 5th, 2021. They won’t have to take any additional action and will have their claim balances updated by state UI agencies once they update their systems.
If someone’s benefits had expired prior to or on December 26th 2020 (end date of previous program funding under CARES act) or if they need to start a new claim then it does appear per the recent DOL guidelines that they can request to backdate their claim date to the week of unemployment (due to COVID-19) beginning December 6, 2020 (ending Dec 12th, 2020). Benefits will start from this date if the backdated claim is approved by the state unemployment insurance (UI) agency. Note that backdated claims will be paid from funding under the CARES Act and not from the recent funding approved for the 11 week extension. You state UI agency will determine if you have enough “weeks” left to cover your backdated claim so likely will only cover new PUA applicants or those who have a correction to their actual claim date.
Applying for back payment of benefits will vary from state to state and instructions will soon be issued by state UI agencies per guidance (see state specific UI information here). Note that the $300 FPUC will only start getting paid from December 27, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. So any backdated weeks prior to December 27th, 2020 won’t get the new $300 even if you qualify for PUA or PEUC in your backdated claim.
Key Dates for PEUC, PUA and FPUC Programs
|Enhanced Unemployment Program||Max Weeks Available in Program||Program Effective Start Date (limited to maximum weeks available under program)||Program End Date (no new claims after this)||Payment End Date for Remaining Weeks|
|PUA Claims filed on or before Dec 27, 2020 (e.g. Active Claimant, getting UI benefits)||50 (39 + 11)||If active agreement in place, January 27, 2020||March 14, 2021||April 10, 2021|
|PUA Claims filed after Dec 27, 2020 (e.g. New Claimants)||14 (3 + 11)||If agreement in place, December 1,2020 (claim effective December 6, 2020)||March 14, 2021||April 10, 2021|
|PEUC||24 (13 + 11)||Date of agreement - effective March 28, 2020||March 14, 2021||April 10, 2021|
|$300 FPUC||11||December 27th, 2020||March 14, 2021||N/A|
|$100 Mixed Earner Payment (Optional)||11||December 27th, 2020||March 14, 2021||N/A|
Notes to table:
1. Table does not include extended state benefits which could mean additional weeks of PUA in certain states (e.g California which includes up to 57 weeks)
2. You can only get PUA if you don't qualify for regular UI or PEUC, so those weeks need to be excluded from maximum weeks.
3. New Claimants or those who had exhausted benefits have to apply and get their claim approved for back dating to December 1st. Otherwise they only get the new 11 week maximum under the extension funding from December 27th, 2020