The federal CARES Act created various programs to expand eligibility to increase accessibility to unemployment insurance benefits throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Programs created under the CARES Act include Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
PUA, PEUC and FPUC are all scheduled to end the benefit week ending September 4, 2021, which is the final full week of the program. After September 4, 2021, if you are filing in the PUA or PEUC program, you will no longer be eligible to receive those benefits. This applies to all claimants, EVEN if they have weeks remaining based on when they began filing in a specific program. Please review the information below to better understand how the ending of various programs will impact your eligibility.
PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
The PUA program was created for individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance. This includes self-employed, independent contractors, sole-proprietors, and those with limited work histories.
- If you are self-employed, an independent contractor or sole proprietor you will no longer be able to receive PUA benefits because the program is ending. The final week you will be able to file for benefits is the benefit week ending September 4, 2021.
- If you are an individual with a limited work history filing in PUA, you will no longer be eligible to receive those benefits because the program is ending. You are strongly encouraged to return to work as soon as possible so that you will have enough wages earned in case you become unemployed in the future.
**Federal extensions of PUA will end for the benefit-week-ending September 4, 2021. This applies to PUA claimants EVEN if they have weeks remaining based on when they established their initial claim.
PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
The PEUC program extends the number of weeks an individual can file for regular unemployment insurance. The standard number of weeks a claimant may file for benefits in the regular unemployment insurance program is up to 26 weeks. However, the PEUC program extended those weeks so that claimants could file until the benefit week ending September 4, 2021.
- If you have been filing for more than 26 weeks in regular UI, you are likely filing in the PEUC program and will no longer be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits after the benefit week ending September 4, 2021. *If you had opened a new benefit year but were put back on PEUC because you qualified for a lesser benefit amount, you will need to contact Claimant Assistance at 877-214-3332 to have your regular unemployment benefit year reopened. When you were moved back onto the PEUC program, you were mailed a notice.
**Federal extensions of PEUC will end for the benefit-week-ending September 4, 2021. This applies to laimants EVEN if they have week sremaining based on when they began filing under the program.
FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSTION
The FPUC program adds $300 to each weekly benefit payment. The final week the additional $300 will be included in your benefit payment is for the benefit week ending September 4, 2021. After that, your benefit payment will only include your weekly benefit amount.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO GET BACK TO WORK
Employers are offering incentives and flexibilities not seen pre-COVID, which may not last. There has never been a better time to seek job opportunities. Learn more about resources for job seekers at Labor.Vermont.gov/Jobs
The unemployment insurance program requires you return to work when you have exhausted your benefits to requalify. There are three important requirements you must meet before you can become eligible for benefits again.
- Earn four times your weekly benefit amount. You must return to work and earn four times your weekly benefit amount after the effective date effective date of your old claim. . The wages do not need to be earned at the same employer you were previously separated from.
- Earn wages in at least two quarters. You must return to work and earn at least $2999 in one of the last four consecutive calendar quarters and 40% of that amount in the remaining quarters in the base period. The “base period” is four consecutive calendar quarters that fall within the 18-month period before you filed your initial claim.
- Example 1: If you return to work on July 1, earn $5000 in Quarter 3 (July 1 – September 30) and continue working and earn $2000 in wages up until you are laid off in November (Quarter 4), you will satisfy this requirement to requalify for benefits. Please remember, you must also meet the other requirements outlined in this section.
- Example 2: If you do not return to work and continue to file until PEUC ends (September 4), return to work in a seasonal position (e.g. hospitality or construction) and are laid off in November you will likely not be eligible for benefits because you have not earned sufficient wages within the last two quarters.
- Become eligible for a new benefit year: If you have been filing for more than 26 weeks, you will not be able to file for benefits again until you qualify for a new benefit year. Your benefit year start date is the date you submitted your initial application for benefits or opened a new benefit year. If you have exhausted your 26 weeks since the date your benefit year started, you will not be able to file again until the benefit year expires, and you have met the other requirements outlined in the bullets above.