Updated: Apr 5
It's a pretty confident name for the third stimulus package, amirite? There is funding included in this bill to help unemployment offices assist in getting claimants their benefits in a timely manner -- but only time will tell if they are able to deliver and not continue to push people into financial struggle.
Let's get to what you've been waiting for - a breakdown of what it all means.
All the information in this article is primarily derived from the new bill itself (or the older CAA or CARES bill), but this article only talks about the bits that are relevant to unemployment. I would also like to note that there usually is a US Department of Labor guidance that is put out which will be written on when it does. That being said, take everything with a grain of salt. If there is one thing we can trust to always be true is the fact that things are always changing.
It's also important to note that it's expected the President will sign this bill, but as of today it has not been signed or made official. References to unemployment start on page 290 if you are interesting in reading the bill yourself.
The bill pretty much amended what the Continued Assistance Act (aka stimulus #2) had written and extended the already existing extensions. Here are the highlights:
All federal programs will now end September 6, 2021 (used to be March 14, 2021)
PUA is now 79 weeks or ends September 6, 2021, PUA used to be 50 weeks. Also remember there is an additional 7 from FED-ED which totals PUA to 86 weeks
PEUC is now 53 weeks or ends September 6, 2021 - whichever is first. (PEUC used to be 24 weeks)
Waiting period for new applicants will continue to be waived
If you were on PUA, but now qualify for PEUC due to these new extensions - the payments on PUA will not be considered as overpayment, so long as you did not receive payments from the same week (aka if you were somehow double dipping by receiving both PUA and PEUC on the same week, that will be considered an overpayment )
If your gross income is less than $150,000 -- your unemployment compensation of up to $10,200 does not have to be considered as a part of your gross income when you file taxes. Basically, $10,200 of your unemployment compensation is tax free. The effective date is December 31, 2019 -- which means this will apply to your 2020 taxes.
My benefit year is up - do I need to apply?
Updated 3/26/21 - The short answer: Likely YES.
In the most recent article we published "Reapplying - A Clear Answer", the EDD has updated their website to a section called "Benefit Year Ended" which basically says you have to reapply if you are Regular UI or on extension. If you are a PUA claimant, you DO NOT have to reapply.
We also have an article "The Big Question: Do I need to reapply?" that has some good information.
The article was based on the verbiage from EDD and their newsletters, but it's important to know that MANY PEOPLE have been able to continue certifying DESPITE their claim year to have ended. This leads to the assumption that one can finish an extension before having to apply for a new claim. I also want to point out that the Continued Assistance Act said two things that was a little confusing:
1) If permitted under state law, as long as the state is in an Extended Benefits period after the date the individual exhaust PEUC, even if the individual's benefit year has expired, the individual may still be eligible for Extended Benefits"
2) "If at any time while the individual is collecting Extended Benefits, the individual becomes eligible for regular Unemployment Compensation, the individual must stop collecting Extended Benefits and file a new regular Unemployment Compensation Claim"
#1 basically says if the unemployment rate is still high after you exhaust PEUC and your benefit year has expired that you could potentially qualify to continue receiving benefits through FED-ED. Then #2 says if at any time you are on FED-ED and you become qualified for regular UI that you will have to file a new claim. So, you basically have to continue being ineligible for new claim in order to stay on FED-ED.
If you DO happen to re-apply, remember that new applications take 2-3 weeks to process. Nothing is going to be happening immediately. So once you apply, you have to sit tight.
PEUC or new claim?? I know I qualify for a new claim since my claim year expired, should I go on PEUC or file a new claim?
The Continued Assistance Act "gives states the option to allow individuals" to continue being on PEUC despite being qualified for a new claim, but only for claims with a benefit year expiration date of January 2, 2021.
If your potential "new claim" would award you a weekly benefit amount that is at least $25 lower than the PEUC weekly benefit amount. For example, if you apply for a new claim, your weekly benefit amount is $200, but your old PEUC claim had you at $250 -- because that's a $50 difference (more than $25), they can put you back on PEUC.
KEYWORDS: "give states the option to allow individuals", which means US Department of Labor guidance says EDD could do this, but whether or not if they will depends on what California as a state wants to do. Also NOTE - this is for any claims that have an expiration of January 2, 2021 or later.
Should I apply for PUA?
The only time you would "apply for PUA" is if you are self-employed, 1099, etc and this is your initial application. Otherwise, if you were on regular UI, PEUC, or FED-ED you cannot apply to PUA. PUA is not something you "apply to" once your other benefits run out... you will automatically be put on PUA if EDD determines you to not qualify for the other programs.
Simple said - the answer is no, do not apply unless this is your very first time applying or you are re-applying since your claim year expired. If you choose to apply even though you know you are on regular UI you may be risking putting yourself into a black hole of ID verification.
Do I qualify for FPUC (aka additional $300)? I am on ___ program.
All programs (regular UI, PUA, PEUC, FED-ED) should qualify for FPUC. As long as you get state benefits (at least $1 from EDD) then you will get federal benefits.
My claim still says reopen // My claim still says maximum benefits paid
If you still have not re-opened your claim and it has not cleared up, you should try to reopen your claim or call 1-800-300-5616
If you have had "maximum benefits paid" you should probably call them to push your claim through
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
What is PUA?
PUA are for those who are self-employed, independent contractors, have little work history. Basically you did not get taxes taken out of your paychecks. Another indicator that you are on PUA is if you started out with 167 as your weekly benefit amount
As of January 31, 2021 - new applicants have to submit documentation to substantiate employment or self-employment within 21 days. The deadline may be extended if individual can show good cause (this is not in the new bill, but is part of the Continued Assistance Act - stimulus #2 and carried over)
Do I still need to submit documentation?
Anyone receiving PUA on or after December 27, 2020 will have to submit documentation to substantiate employment or self-employment
When do I need to submit my documentation by?
It depends on when you applied:
Applied for PUA before January 31, 2021: If you receive payment after December 27, 2020 you're required to provide documentation within 90 days of application or when directed to submit documentation, whichever is later. Deadline may be extended if individual shows good cause.
Filling on or after January 31, 2021: required to provide documentation within 21 days of application or when directed to submit documentation, whichever is later. Deadline may be extended if individual shows good cause within 21 days
How long does this extension last for PUA?
PUA is now a total of 79 weeks. If you include the additional FED-ED 7 weeks that will put PUA at a total of 86 weeks. The FED-ED 7 weeks exists if the unemployment rate is still high. PUA will end when you use all those weeks OR when we arrive at September 6, 2021. If you have a remaining balance on September 6, 2021 then that's that. That remaining money is not owed to you. If you did not collect, you did not collect.
What about overpayments?
This CAA (stimulus #2) allows state authority to waive overpayments made if they can determine it was 1) without fault on the part of the individual and 2) repayment would be contrary to equity and good conscience
This basically means that if repaying benefits to EDD causes you hardship, it can potentially be waived.
I'm a new applicant and about to apply, but I have been unemployed since March 2020, can I backdate?
There are new limitations. Anyone who applies after December 27, 2020 cannot backdate any earlier than week ending December 6, 2020.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - 13 week extension
What is PEUC?
PEUC is the very first extension that would initiate after your REGULAR UI claim exhausts. If you are PUA or self-employed, you would not get PEUC.
It is also possible for you to have had this history: Regular UI > PEUC > FED-ED > PEUC
If you did not qualify for FED-ED and ran out of PEUC quite early this could be your history: Regular UI > PEUC > PUA > PEUC
How long is the extension?
PEUC is now 53 weeks rather than 24. They will expire after you use up all 53 weeks or they expire September 6, 2021. Even if you have a remaining balance, the remaining balance will not be paid to you. If you do not collect before September 6, 2021 then you do not collect.
What happens after PEUC?
More than likely you will go on to FED-ED if you had not already done so
If FED-ED is not available to you (you don't qualify) and you have exhausted regular UI and PEUC, AND you cannot qualify for a new claim because you did not earn enough wages... you may then be able to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which has a minimum Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) of $167/week.
NOTE: You MUST have been effected by COVID-19 in order to be eligible to receive PUA. PUA program is a total of 79 weeks or up until week ending September 6, 2021
FED-ED (20 week extension)
If you are currently on FED-ED - You will need to finish your FED-ED extension before getting back onto the PEUC extension (the total amount of weeks will likely be 40 if you already used the first 13-week extension). This will be in effect until September 6, 2021.
If you are going into FED-ED after PEUC you'll have 20 weeks of FED-ED, because of the new stimulus #3 it's likely you'll stay on PEUC.
Regular Unemployment Insurance, no extension yet
How do I know I'm on regular UI?
If you paid taxes on your paychecks, you are more than likely on regular UI.
If you have a weekly benefit amount less than 167, you are on regular UI.
You can also click History > Transactions > Find "Program Type"
What happens for me?
Once you exhaust, you will go on PEUC and it will last 53 weeks or will expire week ending September 6, 2021 whichever comes first. If you use up your 53 weeks, next will be FED-ED.
General strokes for what the breakdown of programs you could be on:
If you exhausted your first PEUC extension before December 27, 2020:
Regular UI > PEUC (13 weeks) > FED-ED (20 weeks) > PEUC (11 weeks + new 29 weeks)
Regular UI > PEUC (13 weeks) > PUA > PEUC (11 weeks + new 29 weeks) > FED-ED
If you started your PEUC extension after December 27, 2020:
Regular UI > PEUC (13 weeks) > PEUC (11 weeks) > PEUC (new 29 weeks) > FED-ED
For self-employed PUA applicants - yours is easy! You just stay on PUA. :)
Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)
The American Rescue Plan has no amendments to the MEUC, but EDD still has not implemented anything as of today.
MEUC provides a federally funded $100/week additional benefit who have at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income, but disqualified from receiving PUA because they are eligible for regular state benefits. This will be in addition to the $300/week from FPUC. So your additional federal benefit will be $400 instead of $300.
How will they verify this? No news on that yet, but subscribe for updates.
In Between Programs
Mostly for W2 claimants
PUA to PEUC: I was originally on Regular UI. I was put on PUA because I did not qualify for FED-ED. Now there is an extension, what happens now?
You will be switched back onto PEUC from PUA
FED-ED to PEUC? I've started FED-ED, but with this new PEUC extension do I go back to PEUC?
If you previously exhausted PEUC and started on FED-ED, you must finish your FED-ED before being eligible for the additional weeks of PEUC that is under the Continued Assistance Act or American Rescue Plan.
FFCRA Unemployment Provisions
Temporary assistance for states with advances now extended to September 6, 2021. "The loans allow states with low balances in their unemployment trust funds to delay employer tax increases or other employer surcharges while the economy is struggling."
FFCRA which provides temporary full federal finances of Extended Benefits for high states will extend up until September 6, 2021
How much are they giving out for the stimulus check?
Provision provides a refundable tax credit of $1,400 per eligible family member. It's $1,400 per taxpayer ($2,800 for married filing jointly), in addition to $1,400 per qualifying child
Will it be on my bank account or EDD card?
Unemployment is not related to stimulus checks. You will see it however you got your last stimulus checks or how your taxes are set up. Some people have their taxes done and have refunds or payments made through their bank account. If you do not, you will receive it by mail through the address you used when you filed your taxes.
The bill itself: click here
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Additional Tools & Resources
Direct Unemployment Guru Help
We are also HIRING more Unemployment Gurus to help us meet the demand. So many people are still owed benefits since March! It's still a shock to us each time we hear it. Help us help people get their benefits that are rightly owed to them. See our careers page.
Tools & Calculators
Unemployment Gurus has tools and calculators to figure out those really confusing questions:
How much can I earn and still qualify for the FPUC $300 from the new stimulus?
Do I qualify for FED-ED?
How much will I get if I work?
What is my standard base period?
Do I qualify for LWA?
Am I eligible for UI?
Preview tools here