Federal Unemployment Programs set to expire on or before December 26, 2020
Montpelier, Vt. - The Department of Labor is reminding individuals receiving unemployment insurance benefits of the upcoming changes to a number of federal unemployment benefit programs, including Extended Benefits (EB), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). PUA and PEUC, funded through the CARES Act, are set to expire at the end of the calendar year with the last payable week being the week ending December 26, 2020. Additionally, Vermont will likely trigger off its Extended Benefits program in the coming weeks, as the unemployment rate continues to drop. The loss of both PEUC and EB will significantly reduce the number of payable weeks under the regular UI program.
For the week ending November 28, there were 10,082 individuals filing in the regular UI program, another 8,963 filing under the PEUC program, and 704 individuals filing under the Extended Benefits program. Additionally, the PUA program had 8,451 claimants filing for the same week. The Department estimates that more than 70 percent of the filing population could be negatively impacted by the loss of these programs.
The Department can and will continue to process claims and issue benefit payments from these programs even after the final week, as long as the eligible week occurred prior to the last week of the program.
Claimants filing under the State’s regular UI program receive up to 26 weeks of benefits. An additional 13 weeks were added with the creation of the PEUC program, and finally another 13 weeks were added when the Extended Benefits program became available, for a total of 52 weeks of benefits. The conclusion of these expanded benefit programs will reduce the total number of weeks available to a maximum of 26 weeks. The maximum number of payable weeks under the PUA program is 39 weeks.
“I, and the Department, are very disappointed to have to make this announcement, as it had been our hope that Congress would act to extend these benefits; however, with no relief in sight, we unfortunately need to shift our focus to ensuring claimants have a plan in place for transitioning off of benefits and back to work. For many, the loss of these benefits could amount to hundreds of dollars each week and will put claimants and their families at risk. With that, our staff is working hard to ensure that impacted individuals have other avenues of support made available to them. Additionally, we continue to work with our congressional delegation to ensure Congress acts accordingly to extend these essential programs,” said Commissioner Michael Harrington.
Claimants who are able to look for work should do so voluntarily to ensure a minimal impact when these programs end. Additionally, claimants should also be prepared for the Department to reactivate the currently suspended work search requirements in the coming weeks as a proactive way to move individuals who are able to work, back into the labor force.
For those interested in exploring other employment opportunities, the Department also offers virtual reemployment services to Vermonters at no cost to the individual. These services include job search assistance, resume development, improving interviewing skills and connecting Vermonters with training opportunities. Learn more at www.labor.vermont.gov/workforce-development.
Impacted claimants may find additional support services, such as housing assistance, fuel and heating assistance, and food assistance by contacting Vermont 2-1-1 (www.vermont211.org or www.navigateresources.net/211vermont).
More information about the Department of Labor and unemployment insurance can be found on the Department’s website at www.labor.vermont.gov.