As state unemployment agencies are inundated with new claims, the US DOL recently provided instructions to states for implementing the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC) of the CARES Act in its April 10, 2020 guidance. PEUC allows states to enter into agreements with the Secretary of Labor to pay up to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to eligible individuals, through December 31, 2020. We highlight the important takeaways below.
Eligibility. PEUC is available to individuals who:
- Have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment compensation under state or Federal law,
- Have no rights to regular unemployment compensation under other state or Federal law,
- Are not receiving compensation under the unemployment compensation laws of Canada, and
- Are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work.
An individual has “exhausted” benefits when they have received all available regular unemployment compensation under state law based on employment or wages during the base period, or when an individual’s right to regular unemployment compensation has been termination due to the expiration of their benefit year. States must check to see if an individual can establish a new benefit year in any state before determining that individual is eligible for PEUC.
States must have flexibility in applying the requirement that an individual is “actively seeking work” in cases where individuals are unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction.
Coordination of Benefits. Individuals receiving PEUC are still eligible for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $600 per week through July 31, 2020. In addition, extended benefits must be deferred until after the payment of PEUC.
Weekly Benefit Amount. For a week of total unemployment, the PEUC benefit is the amount of regular compensation payable to such individual during the applicable benefit year under state law, plus $600 through July 31, 2020. For a week of partial unemployment, the PEUC benefit is equal to the amount of regular compensation payable to such individual during the applicable benefit year for partial unemployment under state law, plus $600 through July 31, 2020.
Notification. States must identify individuals who are potentially eligible for PEUC and provide them with written notification and filing instruction. For interstate claims, the paying state is responsible for identifying and notifying all potentially eligible interstate claimants. Additionally, to assure public knowledge, states must notify all news media with coverage of the beginning of the PEUC program in the state.