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The Employment and Training Administration rang in the new year by publishing half a dozen guidance documents pertaining to Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs addressed in the most recent COIVD relief package. In addition to extensions to existing programs, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, established a new but optional program, Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).
Mixed earners, as the name suggests, earn a combination of traditional and self-employment income (W-2 and 1099, respectively). The income derived from the W-2 precludes individuals from qualifying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), UI for the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig-workers. Thus, a mixed earner must apply for regular State UI but can only claim the W-2 income, resulting in a weekly benefit amount that is calculated from the claimant’s lower than actual reported income.
The MEUC extends a helping hand to mixed earners by providing an additional $100 per week in supplemental UI, on top of the recently extended Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Together, these programs total an extra $400 per week. To qualify, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- The applicant must have received at least $5,000 of self-employment income in the most recent taxable year prior to the UI application.
- The applicant must be receiving at least $1 of UI in any program other than Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), such as regular state UI or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
- The applicant must provide substantiating self-employment income documentation
The program is available in participating states from January 2 to March 14. Currently, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York have expressed interest In opting in. Because this program is federally funded, we can expect most if not all states to offer MEUC. Moreover, states will receive a minimum of $150,000 towards MEUC start-up costs. Despite the small stipend, we can expect delays as states work to implement and process the new benefit as we’ve seen before with the rollout of PUA, FPUC, and LWA. This is yet another reason the new Congress must allocate additional funds to help states meet the costs of their UI expenditures.