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Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Update – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

The Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act, which was enacted on March 27, 2020, as part of the CARES Act, significantly expanded unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the number of weeks of benefits, increasing the amount of benefits, and covering individuals who would traditionally not be eligible for benefits.  On December 27, 2020, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, which extended, with some modifications, the benefits that were available under the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act, was enacted.  Those extensions were scheduled to end on March 14, 2021 (with a phaseout through April 11, 2021 for some claimants).  The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was enacted on March 11, 2021, further extends these benefits.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provided an additional 13 weeks of benefits to claimants with a benefit year ending on or after July 1, 2019 who exhausted their regular benefits from March 30, 2020 to December 27, 2020.

The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 extended PEUC to March 14, 2021 with a phaseout through April 11, 2021 (for claimants receiving PEUC during the week ending March 14, 2021).  It also increased the number of weeks of PEUC from 13 to 24, with the additional 11 weeks available beginning December 28, 2020.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 further extends PEUC to September 5, 2021 (with no phaseout) and increases the number of weeks of PEUC from 24 to 53, with the additional 29 weeks available beginning March 15, 2021.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provided an additional $600 of benefits per week from March 30, 2020 to July 26, 2020.  The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 reinstated FPUC—at a reduced amount of $300 per week—from December 28, 2020 to March 14, 2021.  FPUC is not available for weeks during the gap from July 27, 2020 to December 27, 2020, and there is no phaseout for FPUC.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 further extends FPUC to September 5, 2021 (with no phaseout)—still at the reduced amount of $300 per week.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provided benefits to individuals who were not otherwise eligible for benefits and unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  PUA was available from January 27, 2020 (backdated) to December 27, 2020.  Initially, PUA was available for 39 weeks (i.e., the equivalent of 26 weeks of regular benefits plus 13 weeks of PEUC).  Once New York triggered “on” for an additional 7 weeks of extended benefits (EB), the number of weeks of PUA increased by an equivalent amount to 46.

The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 extended PUA to March 14, 2021 with backdating to December 1, 2020 (for claims opened on or after December 28, 2020) and a phaseout through April 11, 2021 (for claimants receiving PUA during the week ending March 14, 2021).  It also increased the number of weeks of PUA from 39 to 50, with the additional 11 weeks available beginning December 28, 2020.  Because New York was triggered “on” for an additional 7 weeks of EB, the number of weeks of PUA increased by an equivalent amount to 57.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 further extends PUA to September 5, 2021 (with no phaseout) and increases the number of weeks of PUA from 50 to 79, with the additional 29 weeks available beginning March 15, 2021.  As long as New York is triggered “on” for an additional 7 weeks of EB, the number of weeks of PUA increases by an equivalent amount to 86.

Progression, Duration, and Amount of Benefits

Generally, a claimant must exhaust regular benefits to be eligible for PEUC and exhaust PEUC to be eligible for EB (except for claimants who began receiving EB before PEUC was extended).  A claimant must exhaust all other benefits (and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic) to be eligible for PUA.  FPUC is available to any claimant who is otherwise eligible for one of the other benefits.

The table below summarizes the benefits that are available for specific dates of unemployment.  The number of weeks of benefits in each cell is the cumulative total that is available as of that date (although a claimant whose benefit year has ended may be able to open a new claim for up to 26 weeks of regular benefits).

Dates of Unemployment

Regular Benefits PEUC EB PUA

FPUC

Before January 27, 2020 Up to 26 weeks Not available Not available Not available Not available
January 27, 2020-March 29, 2020 Up to 26 weeks Not available Not available Up to 39 weeks (minus any regular benefits and EB) Not available
March 30, 2020-June 28, 2020 Up to 26 weeks Up to 13 weeks Not available Up to 39 weeks (minus any regular benefits and EB) Additional $600 per week
June 29, 2020-July 26, 2020 Up to 26 weeks Up to 13 weeks Up to 20 weeks Up to 46 weeks (minus any regular benefits and EB) Additional $600 per week
July 27, 2020-December 27, 2020 Up to 26 weeks Up to 13 weeks Up to 20 weeks Up to 46 weeks (minus any regular benefits and EB) Not available
December 28, 2020-March 14, 2021 Up to 26 weeks Up to 24 weeks Up to 20 weeks Up to 57 weeks (minus any regular benefits and EB) Additional $300 per week[1]
March 15, 2021-September 5, 2021 Up to 26 weeks Up to 53 weeks Up to 20 weeks (subject to triggering “off”) Up to 86 weeks  (minus any regular benefits and EB) Additional $300 per week
After September 5, 2021 Up to 26 weeks Not available Up to 20 weeks (subject to triggering “off”) Not available Not available

In New York, the minimum weekly benefit rate (excluding FPUC) for regular benefits, PEUC, and EB is $108.  The minimum weekly benefit rate (excluding FPUC) for PUA changes each quarter and is currently $173.  The maximum weekly benefit rate (excluding FPUC) for all benefits is $504.

[1] Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), a new benefit under the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, provided an additional $100 of benefits per week (in addition to FPUC) for claimants who had at least $5,000 of self-employment income in the most recent tax year before they opened their claim for benefits and are receiving benefits other than PUA from December 28, 2020 to March 14, 2021.  The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 extends MEUC to September 5, 2021.

 

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