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Earlier this week, Congressional Leadership released the 2021 Omnibus with the Covid-19 stimulus ride along. Both chambers of Congress have passed the legislation, and it awaits President Trump’s signature.
Below is a snapshot of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) policies enacted or extended in the bill:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – PUA
PUA is UI for individuals who normally do not qualify for regular state UI, such as gig workers
- PUA will be extended to March 14, 2021
- Individuals who are filing continuing claims on March 14, 2021 will continue to receive benefits until April 5, 2021, so long as the claimant has eligible benefit weeks left
- PUA duration of benefits will be increased from 39 weeks to 50 weeks
- Claimants who have been denied PUA will be able to appeal the decision at the state level
- States may provide repayment waivers to individuals who received ineligible PUA payments if the improper payment was received through no fault of their own and the repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience
- PUA benefits may be retroactively paid to December 1, 2020
- New and existing claimants must provide income and/or employment verification
- States must verify PUA claimants’ identities
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – PEUC
PEUC is the 13-week extension for individuals who have exhausted regular UI claims
- PEUC will be extended to March 14, 2021
- Individuals who are filing continuing claims on March 14, 2021 will continue receiving benefits through April 5, 2021 so long as the claimant has eligible weeks left
- Duration of benefits will be increased from 13 weeks to 24 weeks
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – FPUC
FPUC is a 100% federally funded supplemental UI payment. This was commonly known as the $600 weekly top-up under the CARES Act.
- FPUC will be reinstated at $300 per week
- FPUC will be available from December 26, 2020 (or the date the bill is agreed to) through March 14, 2021
- FPUC will be available to any claimant receiving at least $1 of UI
The relief package also extends interest free borrowing of Title XII loans through March 14, 2021. The Chamber welcomes the inclusion of this essential provision as it will ensure states can continue to pay UI benefits without businesses facing steep UI taxes. However, Congress should consider interest free loans throughout 2021 as well as additional funds to shore up depleted trust funds.
Additional UI provisions include benefits for mixed earners, mechanisms to report workers who refuse to return to suitable work, and continued federal funding of extended and workshare benefits. The section-by-section summary of the UI portion of the Act can be viewed here.