The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Programs: How They Worked

Greater than 10 million Individuals utilized for unemployment advantages in March 2020—some 6.6 million of them within the week ending March 28 alone. In April 2020 the unemployment fee soared to 14.7%, “the very best fee and the most important over-the-month improve within the historical past of the info (accessible again to January 1948),” in keeping with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The variety of unemployed individuals rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April.” To place that into perspective, the unemployment fee hit 10% simply as soon as throughout the Nice Recession of 2008, the final main monetary disaster to grip the U.S. The numbers had been probably the most dire for the reason that Nice Melancholy.

Hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Individuals relied on unemployment insurance coverage (UI) to assist cowl lease, groceries, and different bills. A number of new packages had been created to assist alleviate a number of the financial ache brought on by COVID-19, because of a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package deal known as the CARES (Coronavirus Support, Aid, and Financial Safety) Act that President Trump signed into regulation on March 27, 2020.

The CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance coverage advantages to many employees affected by COVID-19 by way of three key packages: the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, the Pandemic Unemployment Help (PUA) program, and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. Here’s a have a look at these packages and the way they helped unemployed Individuals affected by the coronavirus.


Key Takeaways

  • The CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance coverage advantages to many employees affected by COVID-19, the sickness brought on by the coronavirus, by way of three key packages.
  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program supplied an additional $600 weekly profit on prime of your common unemployment insurance coverage (UI) if you cannot work as a result of COVID-19.
  • The Pandemic Unemployment Help (PUA) program expanded UI eligibility to self-employed employees, freelancers, impartial contractors, and part-time employees impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program prolonged UI advantages for an additional 13 weeks.
  • Most states beneficial making use of for UI advantages on-line.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

The CARES Act established the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program to spice up advantages for out-of-work Individuals. Underneath this new program, eligible individuals who collected sure unemployment insurance coverage advantages—together with common unemployment compensation—received an additional $600 in federal advantages every week by way of July 31, 2020. After a collection of extensions, this system expired on September 6, 2021. In complete, a further 40 weeks had been added to the unique 13 weeks of prolonged advantages.

FPUC was a flat quantity given to individuals who had been receiving unemployment insurance coverage, together with those that received a partial unemployment profit examine. This program additionally utilized to individuals who obtained advantages below the brand new Pandemic Unemployment Help program, which coated freelancers, impartial contractors, and gig employees (see beneath).

Underneath the CARES Act, states that waived their traditional one-week “ready interval” for advantages had been absolutely reimbursed by the federal authorities for advantages paid that week, plus any related administrative bills.

Making use of for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

To use for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, folks needed to file a declare for normal advantages with the UI program within the state the place they labored. Relying on the state, they may file a declare in individual, on-line, or over the telephone. After they filed a declare, they’d to supply their Social Safety Quantity, contact info, and particulars about their former employment.

Underneath the FPUC program, states administered an additional $600 weekly fee to eligible individuals who had been receiving common unemployment advantages (together with Unemployment Compensation for Federal Workers and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers), as properly these gathering advantages from the next packages:

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Help
  • Prolonged advantages
  • Brief-Time Compensation
  • Commerce Readjustment Allowances
  • Catastrophe Unemployment Help
  • Cost below the Self-Employment Help program

As a result of large variety of folks attempting to use for UI advantages, many state’s UI web sites crashed or had been very gradual. Candidates had been suggested to observe for updates on this system web site, and to bear in mind that many states had indicated they’d backdate claims to the date candidates first grew to become unemployed.

As this system launched, most states had been nonetheless ready for steering from the Division of Labor to implement this system (and the opposite two packages, as properly). As states began to supply the additional fee, eligible folks obtained retroactive funds. The funds dated again to the applicant’s eligibility date or the date their state signed an settlement to supply the advantages—whichever was later. All states had executed agreements with the Division of Labor as of March 28, 2020.

FPUC, PUA, and PEUC had been absolutely federally funded packages. States additionally obtained further administrative funds to function these packages.

Pandemic Unemployment Help

The Pandemic Unemployment Help (PUA) program quickly prolonged unemployment advantages to eligible self-employed employees, together with:

  • Freelancers and impartial contractors
  • Staff looking for part-time work
  • Staff who do not have a long-enough work historical past to qualify for state unemployment insurance coverage advantages
  • Staff who in any other case would not qualify for advantages below state or federal regulation

This system expired on Sept. 6, 2021, together with different employment-related packages that supplied COVID aid.

Pandemic Unemployment Help Eligibility

To be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Help, candidates had to supply self-certification that they had been capable of work and accessible for work, and that they had been unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work as a result of one in all these COVID-19-related conditions:

  • They’ve been recognized with COVID-19 or have signs of it and try to get recognized
  • A member of their family has been recognized with COVID-19
  • They’re offering care for somebody recognized with COVID-19
  • They’re offering care for a kid or different family member who cannot go to high school or work as a result of it is closed as a result of COVID-19
  • They’re quarantined or have been suggested by a well being care supplier to self-quarantine
  • They had been scheduled to begin a job and do not have a job or cannot attain the job as a result of COVID-19
  • They’ve grow to be the first earner for a family as a result of the top of family has died as a direct results of COVID-19
  • They needed to give up their job as a direct results of COVID-19
  • Their place of employment has closed as a direct results of COVID-19
  • They meet different standards set forth by the Secretary of Labor

Staff weren’t eligible for PUA advantages if they may telework with pay. Additionally, employees needed to be licensed to work to be eligible for PUA, so undocumented employees didn’t qualify.

Profit quantities had been calculated primarily based on earlier earnings, utilizing a method from the Catastrophe Unemployment Help program below the Stafford Act. PUA had a minimal profit that was equal to 50% of the state’s common weekly UI profit (about $190 per week).

Because it may take time for states to be able to course of claims for freelancers, gig employees, and impartial contractors, employees had been eligible for retroactive advantages and will obtain advantages for as much as 39 weeks, together with any weeks throughout which the employee obtained common unemployment insurance coverage.

This system began on Jan. 27, 2020, and was set to run out on Dec. 31, 2020, below the CARES Act. It was prolonged till March 14, 2021, when the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed into regulation on Dec. 27, 2020.

PUA was given new life once more, including 29 extra weeks to this system after the Biden administration handed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package deal, in March 2021. PUA formally expired on Sept. 6, 2021, after a complete of 79 weeks.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program allowed individuals who had exhausted their common unemployment advantages to obtain as much as 13 further weeks of advantages.

States needed to supply flexibility to candidates in assembly PEUC eligibility necessities associated to “actively looking for work” if an applicant’s capability to seek out work was affected by COVID-19. The invoice specifies that “a State shall present flexibility in assembly such [work search] necessities in case of people unable to seek for work due to COVID-19, together with due to sickness, quarantine, or motion restriction.”

After a collection of extensions, this system additionally expired on September 6, 2021. In complete, a further 40 weeks had been added to the unique 13 weeks of prolonged advantages.

A “non-reduction” rule within the CARES Act prevents states from doing something to lower the utmost variety of weeks of unemployment insurance coverage or the weekly advantages accessible below state regulation as of Jan. 1, 2020.

States Obtained Extra Flexibility To Pay Advantages

Federal regulation allowed appreciable flexibility for states to amend their legal guidelines to supply unemployment insurance coverage advantages in a number of COVID-19-related conditions. States may, for instance, pay advantages when:

  •  An employer quickly closes as a result of COVID-19, stopping workers from going to work
  •  An individual is quarantined and anticipates going again to work after the quarantine is over
  • An individual stops work as a result of a threat of COVID-19 publicity or an infection, to take care of a member of the family, or to homeschool their kids

Underneath federal regulation, an worker did not should give up to obtain advantages as a result of COVID-19.

To seek out out the principles of their state, candidates ought to examine with their state’s unemployment insurance coverage program.