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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, which increases by 13 the number of weeks a claimant is entitled to benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.

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, 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 exhausts all their 26 weeks of benefits. This allows for 39 weeks of benefits for both regular UI beneficiaries, as well as PUA beneficiaries. Currently this provision lasts until December 31, 2020.

Qualifying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation


Beneficiaries who first became eligible for regular UI or PUA during the pandemic, who continue to be unemployed after 26 weeks of receiving the benefit, will continue to receive the benefit for an additional 13 weeks at the same benefit rate they received during the 26 weeks; individuals will not be required to file a claim for these additional 13 weeks, but they must continue to certify weekly.


PEUC will also allow traditional UI claimants whose benefit year expired prior to the pandemic, as well as those whose benefit year has not yet expired prior to the pandemic – whether they exhausted their 26 weeks of UI benefits or not, to obtain the additional 13 weeks of benefits. To learn more about a benefit year and refer to Benefits Plus, Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Description of Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Benefit Year.

When A Regular UI Claimant’s Benefit Year Has Not Expired

  • If the claimant 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.
Case Example

Case 1: Elisha applied for regular UI benefits the last week of October 2019. Her benefit year is November 1, 2019 – October 31, 2020. She exhausted her 26 weeks of benefits the first week of May. She is entitled to an 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 February 2020. In May 2020, she became unemployed again. She still has 14 weeks of the original 26 weeks and additional 13 weeks under PEUC.

When A UI Claimant’s Benefit Year Expired after July 1, 2019

  • If a claimant’s benefit year expired after July 1st 2019and 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.