Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

T + T


The CARES Act of 2020 expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits to all 50 states. It created three separate benefits, all three of have been extended to September 6, 2021. The three expansions include:

  • 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.


Regular Unemployment Insurance beneficiaries also qualify for the NYS 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: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.

Description of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation


Under regular UI benefits, claimants receive a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits within their benefit year. As of March 11, 2021, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides an additional 53 weeks, which becomes available to the claimant after s/he has exhausted all 26 weeks of regular UI benefits.

Originally under the CARES Act the length of PEUC benefits was an additional 13 weeks, which was to end December 31, 2020. Subsequent legislation granted an additional 11 weeks through March 14, 2021. The most recent legislation, the American Rescue Plan Act, extends weekly benefits an additional 29 weeks through September 6, 2021, for up to a total of 53 weeks of PEUC benefits. This means individuals are entitled to up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits (this includes the 26 weeks of traditional UI benefits entitled under NYS law.)


A claimant’s weekly benefit rate under PEUC will be the same amount the claimant receives under regular UI or PUA benefits. Individuals eligible for PEUC are also eligible for the $300 supplemental Pandemic Unemployment Compensation through September 6, 2021.


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.

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 weeks of PEUC 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.

Certifying for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Claimants certify for weekly benefits the same way as they certify for regular UI benefits, through the NY.gov ID account at https://applications.labor.ny.gov/IndividualReg/ or through the Tel-Service at 888-581-5812.