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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

T + T


The CARES Act expanded Unemployment Insurance Benefits through three different programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – increasing the amount of weekly benefits a qualifying individual may receive;
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – expanding the type of worker that can qualify for Unemployment Insurance;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – increasing the number of weeks a qualifying individual can receive benefits.

This section covers the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which increases by 13 the number of weeks a regular UI claimant is entitled to benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.


Unemployment Insurance also has an Extended Benefits (EB) program, which goes into effect under state law once the state reaches a certain level of high unemployment. See below, Extended Benefits, for more information on EB and how it coordinates with Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on traditional Unemployment Insurance Benefits, refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits. For subscription information visit:

Description of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation


Under regular UI benefits, claimants receive a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits within their benefit year. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) adds an additional 13 weeks, which becomes available after a claimant has exhausted all 26 weeks of regular UI benefits, for a total of 39 weeks.

The provision became available as of April 5, 2020 (with the passage of the CARES Act). PEUC expires the benefit week ending December 27, 2020, unless the U.S. Congress acts.


A claimant’s weekly benefit rate under PEUC will be the same amount the claimant received for regular UI benefits. Individuals eligible for PEUC are also eligible for the $600 supplemental Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. However, the last week a claimant can claim the $600 in NYS is the benefit week ending July 26, 2020.


PEUC benefits are paid the same as regular UI benefits, that is claimants will receive benefits either by direct deposit or debit card.

Qualifying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

PEUC is only available to regular UI recipients; it is not available to PUA recipients. And the UI claimant must first exhaust 26 weeks of regular UI benefits and continue to be unemployed to qualify for PEUC.


PUA beneficiaries can receive up to 46 weeks of PUA benefits at this time. See above, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Description of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Length of Benefits.

PEUC allows regular UI claimants whose benefit year began prior to the pandemic but whose benefit year has not yet expired to obtain the additional 13 weeks of benefits. To learn more about a benefit year and refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Description of Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Benefit Year.

Applying for PEUC


  • When a regular UI claimant has exhausted their 26 weeks of benefits, they will receive a letter from NYS DOL advising them to begin certifying to receive the additional 13 weeks of benefits.
  • If the claimant did not exhaust their 26 weeks of benefits (for example they went back to work before their 26 weeks ran out and subsequently became unemployed again), they should start certifying for benefits again, complete their 26 weeks, at which point they become entitled to PEUC.
Case Example

Case 1: Elisha applied for regular UI benefits the next to last week of December 2019. Her benefit year is January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020. She exhausted her 26 weeks of benefits the last week of June. She will be notified by DOL that she is entitled to PEUC and the additional 13 weeks of benefits.
Case 2: Same as above, but in this case, Elisha exhausted 12 weeks of benefits, when she was rehired in April 2020. In May 2020, she became unemployed again. She still has 14 weeks of the original 26 weeks plus the additional 13 weeks under PEUC.


  • If a claimant’s benefit year expired after July 1st 2019 and they are still unemployed, the claimant should file a new claim to receive the 13 additional weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
  • Claimants should receive a letter in the mail from the NYS DOL with more details.
Case Example

Joe had been in receipt of UI benefits and his benefit year ended August 2019. He is still unemployed. He is entitled to an additional 13 weeks of PEUC benefits and should file a new claim on the DOL website.

Certifying for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Claimants certify for weekly benefits the same way as they certify for regular UI benefits, through the ID account at or through the Tel-Service at 888-581-5812.