COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits - Updated

On Friday, March 12, 2021 President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided Americans with extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits if they’re out of work for reasons related to the pandemic.  

The American Rescue Plan Act also includes:

  • A $1,400 payment to individuals making up to $75,000 annually.
  • A waiver on federal taxes on an individual’s first $10,200 of unemployment benefits collected last year. Married couples who file a joint tax return wouldn’t be taxed on the first $20,400 of unemployment income.
    • States may not waive the tax, however. More than half currently levy a state income tax on unemployment benefits.
    • The federal tax break applies to individuals and married couples who made less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income in 2020.
  • $7.25 billion in new money for the small-business loan program known as PPP and would allow more nonprofits to apply, including those groups that engage in advocacy and some limited lobbying. It also allows larger nonprofits to be eligible.
  • The bill also provides $25 billion for relief for small and mid-sized restaurants, which have suffered significantly during the pandemic.

Unemployment Insurance Changes at a Glance

 

CARES Act

Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act

American Rescue Plan Act

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Supplemental amount added to unemployment benefits

$600/week.

Expired July 31, 2020

$300/week.

Expired March 14, 2021

$300/week.

Expires Sept. 6, 2021

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA covers individuals who are not eligible for/exhausted other UI benefits, including self-employed workers, gig workers, independent contractors

Expired Dec. 31, 2020

Expired March 14, 2021

Expires Sept. 6, 2021

How long can eligible individuals receive PUA?

Up to 39 weeks*

Up to 50 weeks*

Up to 79 weeks*

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits (PEUC)

Expired Dec. 31, 2020

Expired March 14, 2021

Expires Sept. 6, 2021

How long can eligible individuals receive PEUC?

13 weeks

24 weeks

53 weeks 

* minus the weeks you received regular unemployment benefits and extended benefits

The State Workforce Agencies will be working to modify their systems now that the American Rescue Plan Act has been signed. We do not expect any new requirements for claimants to be added.  Until otherwise notified:

  • Claimants should not need to reapply for benefits. We expect the State agencies to enroll claimants in the appropriate extension.
  • Claimants should continue to request payments on the schedule set by the state in which they filed their claim.
  • They do not need to contact the state agency in order to receive the extended benefits.
  • The states may require some additional time to implement the new changes, but benefits will be paid retroactively as they have in the past.

 

Source:  U.S. Department of Labor Blog, CNBC