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GDOL update on federal stimulus bill

December 29, 2020–10:40 a.m.


The GDOL is working with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) on the extensions and modifications of the programs in the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 included in H.R. 133, the omnibus spending bill. We are awaiting operational guidance from the USDOL before we can determine the expected timelines and rules for implementation. These guidelines are not expected before the first of the year. We will need to confirm program effective dates which will be provided in the operational guidance from USDOL. The GDOL encourages claimants to continue to request weekly payments. We will work diligently to process all PUA and PEUC claims received after 12/26/20 and release all eligible payments as quickly as possible after program guidelines are established and implemented. Please continue to check our website and social media platforms for information as it becomes available.

The Lost Wages Assistance Program, or LWA, is part of President Trump’s executive order to extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

Claimants who qualify for the LWA program are issued supplemental payments for all eligible weeks. LWA is a program that receives funding from the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund. LWA allows distribution of an additional $300 weekly supplement to eligible individuals receiving UI benefits from state and federal unemployment insurance programs. FEMA announced that all states would be limited to six weeks of benefits. The GDOL received approval for all six weeks of LWA benefits. These will be LWA benefits for weeks ending August 1 through September 5.

Eligibility for the LWA Program is based upon an individual’s weekly benefit determination – an amount calculated by a claimant’s reported wages. Individuals must have received a weekly benefit amount determination of at least $100 to be eligible for LWA supplemental benefits. He/she must also be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To check eligibility, claimants should visit their My UI portal where they will use a link to attest to the reason for their unemployment. Individuals whose employers have filed on their behalf or those who are receiving benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) do not need to attest their reason for unemployment due to weekly certification that addresses this requirement. Only those with an individually filed claim will need to do so.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provided an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs – State and Federal. The FPUC program ended July 31, 2020. This supplement was an additional payment to regular weekly state and federal unemployment benefits and included all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020. Your payment may not be $600 weekly if you have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an UI overpayment (one-half of your $600 FPUC payment will be deducted and applied to your outstanding overpayment).

If you were eligible for weekly benefits before July 31st that included the FPUC supplement of $600 and still haven’t received those payments, you WILL receive the additional $600 when those payments are released.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that provides unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks to individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. These individuals must be determined not to be eligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits.

Individuals determined ineligible to be paid traditional state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application or will find a link to the application in their My UI portal. Once the PUA application is submitted, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. Applicants need to request payment for all eligible weeks since the closing of their business due to COVID-19. See detailed instructions on PUA.

Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GDOL and determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits and may be potentially eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a regular state claim.

The first week for which PUA may be paid is the week ending February 8, 2020 and the last payable week is December 26, 2020.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, or PEUC, provides an extension to regular Unemployment Insurance benefits. This extension adds 13 weeks of benefits to the end of regular unemployment benefits for those who are eligible. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. Claimants are potentially eligible if they have been unemployed between March 29 through December 26, 2020 and have exhausted regular state benefits after July 1, 2019. Individuals must be ineligible for state or federal benefits and able and available to work.

Individuals determined eligible for the program will receive an email or letter with instructions for PEUC or could find the additional benefits already applied in their My UI portal. Claimants need to request payment for all eligible weeks on the regular state UI page at Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payment.

State Extended Benefits, or SEB, is an extension of benefits that occurs when a state meets the unemployment rate threshold for a designated period. Georgia became eligible to pay SEB May 10, 2020. However, the first payable week ending date (WED) was July 4, 2020 based on the first payable WED of PEUC was April 4, 2020 for 13 weeks. As of July 5, 2020, Georgia began a high unemployment period in the Extended Benefits program increasing the maximum potential entitlement for claimants to 20 weeks and or until week-ending December 26, 2020 for individual claims and December 30, 2020 for employer filed claims, whichever comes first. On October 11, due to a decrease in the unemployment rate, we will begin low unemployment period and decrease the maximum potential entitlement for claimants back to 13 weeks or until week-ending December 26, 2020 for individual claims and December 30, 2020 for employer filed claims, whichever comes first.

To qualify for SEB, individuals must have:

  • Exhausted all rights to regular UI under state law;
  • Ineligibility for regular UI in another state or Canada;
  • Established a qualifying UI claim (with respect to the regular UI claim that exhausted);
  • Exhausted PEUC;
  • No disqualifications preventing SEB eligibility;
  • At least one week in the benefit year that begins on or after May 10, 2020, beginning of the SEB eligibility period.

The requirements for SEB are the same as regular UI benefits. The SEB claim is like an additional or reopen claim. The individual’s eligibility is determined by the separation from the most recent employer. Employers submitting employer filed claims are automatically the most recent employer. Additionally, the eligibility requirements are limited to being able and available to work until further notice.

SEB claims will be automatically established for individuals who were paid for week ending date June 17, 2020. Individuals meeting the SEB requirements, as shown above, will be notified in writing of the program availability and a SEB Statement of Potential Benefit Amounts will be posted to the My UI page as claims are established. My UI will also display an SEB section for related claim and payment details.

Individuals will use the Claim Weekly UI Benefits Payments link to request weekly payments.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) $600 supplemental payment is payable to any individual eligible for SEB for WEDs through July 25, 2020 for individual claims and July 31, 2020 for employer filed claims, as long as the weekly entitlement is at least $1.

Read about the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) ACT