December 31, 2020
For Immediate Release: December 31, 2020
Maine Dept. of Labor Receives Initial Federal Guidance, Working to Implement Federal UI Extensions
AUGUSTA - The U.S. Department of Labor has issued the first of several expected guidance documents that provides overarching implementation information about unemployment insurance (UI) provisions contained in the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, which extends federal unemployment programs such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
Additionally, the legislation reauthorizes and modifies the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), which expired July 31, 2020, to provide an additional $300 per week to supplement benefits for weeks of unemployment beginning December 27, 2020, and ending on March 13, 2021. FPUC is not payable with respect to any week during the gap in applicability, that is, week ending July 31, 2020, through week ending December 26, 2020.
The Department urges claimants who are still unemployed and receiving benefits under the federal programs to continue to file weekly certifications, even though they may see no active claim on their claim summary screen temporarily. Having weekly certifications already on file will ensure that payments can be made to eligible individuals as soon as the federal changes are implemented.
Based on federal guidance, the first payable week of the PUA and PEUC extension is week ending January 2. While there will be no break in benefit accrual or eligibility, there may be a brief break in benefit payment for some claimants.
The Department will first process benefits, as well as the $300 FPUC, for people who were actively filing and receiving PUA/PEUC when the programs ended on Dec. 26 and who had not yet fully drawn the benefits for those programs.
Top-line unemployment takeaways from the new legislation are as follows:
Extension of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - Will provide up to an additional 11 weeks of benefits, to a maximum of 50 weeks. - Claimants will be required to provide documentation of eligibility to qualify for PUA - PUA will be available until week ending March 13, 2021 (no new applications after that date). Anyone already in the PUA program by that date who has not exhausted their benefits can continue through April 10.
Extension of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - Will provide up to an additional 11 weeks of benefits, to a maximum of 24 weeks. - PEUC will be available until week ending March 13, 2021 (no new applications after that date). Anyone already in the PEUC program by that date who has not exhausted their benefits can continue through April 10.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) - Will provide up to 11 weeks of an additional $300 weekly benefit to eligible claimants. - A claimant must be eligible for an unemployment program (state unemployment, PUA, PEUC) to receive FPUC. - Once implemented, FPUC will be available to cover weeks of unemployment between Dec. 27, 2020 and week ending March 13, 2021.
The federal guidance can be found at: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=3831.
US DOL anticipates releasing further program-specific Unemployment Insurance Program Letters to states that will provide, in further detail, legal and programmatic guidance on certain provisions of the law, including: - Extended Benefits - Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation - Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation - Merit Staffing Flexibilities - Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation - Funding to address fraud
Updates will be posted to MDOLs website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/.