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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

T + T

Summary

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 – expanding the number of weeks a qualifying individual can receive benefits.

This section covers the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit, which provides an additional $600 per week to beneficiaries of both traditional UI benefits as well as the new PUA benefit.

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 the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

EXPANDING THE AMOUNT OF THE BENEFIT

The CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) benefit. This $600 is for beneficiaries of both regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, as well as for individuals who are eligible under the new expanded qualifying guidelines of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit, see below. Qualifying individuals will receive the regular UI plus the $600 or the PUA benefit amount plus the $600.

The full $600 of the PUC is available to all claimants when they are entitled to at least $1 in partial benefits, whether it is regular UI or PUA.

PUC became available in NYS beginning April 5, 2020, and unless the U.S. Congress acts, is currently slated to end in NYS the benefit week ending July 26th.

ACCESSING THE BENEFIT

Claimants will receive the PUC benefit in the same manner they receive their regular UI or PUA benefit, that is either through a debit card or direct deposit (deposited directly into the claimant’s checking account). Claimants will select their choice when they first file a claim.

HOW PUC COORDINATES WITH OTHER BENEFITS

Social Security Insurance Based Benefits

Income from the PUC is not counted against Security Retirement, Disability, Survivor or Dependent insurance-based benefits.

Cash Assistance

The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount (or regular UI), will count as unearned income when determining eligibility during Cash Assistance application and recertification procedures.

Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan

The $600 is excluded from income calculations when determining eligibility during application and recertification procedures, although the PUA benefit amount is included (as well as the regular UI benefit).

Public Housing and Section 8

The $600 is excluded from income calculations for Public Housing, Section 8
and other HUD administered housing programs.

SNAP

The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount (and the regular UI benefit), will count as unearned income when determining eligibility during SNAP application and recertification procedures.

SSI

The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount (and regular UI), will counted as unearned income for SSI purposes, thus it is very likely that many SSI beneficiaries will have their SSI benefits suspended as a result of receiving the weekly $600 PUC benefit. However, SSI recipients will not lose their Medicaid coverage while in receipt of the additional $600, at least for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

Once the extra $600 ends, and as long as the regular PUA benefit amount does not make them ineligible, SSI recipients will have their SSI benefits reinstated.

Please note, SSI recipients may encounter issues because of the $2,000 asset limit for individuals ($3,000 for couples). This is especially problematic for individuals who receive multiple weeks of retroactive benefits of PUC at one time due to the lags in NYS implementation of this new program. If SSI recipients receive retroactive benefits that would push them over the SSI asset limit, they should consider spending those funds before their SSI suspension period ends.

Qualifying for the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

BASIC RULE

Claimants who qualify under regular Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) or who qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program qualify for PUC. Refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Qualifying for regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits for information on qualifying for UIB.

PART TIME WORKERS

Part-time workers who are eligible to receive PUA, as long as they work less than 4 days a week and earn less than $504 per week, and are eligible for a partial UI or PUA benefit amount, as well the full $600 PUC benefit.

Case Example

Case Example 1: Andy became entitled to PUA benefits beginning April 5th. He certifies for benefits on April 12th. He is determined eligible for $182 in PUA benefits. He indicates that he did not work in the previous week. Andy is entitled to $182 in PUA, plus the $600 in PUC.
Case Example 2: During the week of May 10th, Andy worked two days, but earned less than $504 for the week. He certifies for benefits on May 17th. During the certification process Andy indicates he worked 2 days, but earned less than $504. His PUA benefit will be reduced by half according to the rules of the UI program in NYS. He would receive $91 in PUA benefits and the full $600 for the week of May 10th.
Case Example 3: During the week of May 17th, Andy worked 4 days and earned more than $504 for the week. He certifies for benefits on May 24th. During the certification process Andy indicates he worked 4 days and earned more than $504. According to the rules of the UI program in NYS, he is not entitled to either his PUA benefit or the $600 PUC for the week of May 17th.
Note: To learn more about how part-time work is handled by NYS DOL for beneficiaries, refer to Benefits Plus, Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Returning to Work, Part-Time Employment and Its Impact on Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

Filing for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

Once a claimant has been approved for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance no additional action is required. PUC is automatically granted for all individuals who qualify under either program and claimants will receive their PUC benefit in the same way they receive their regular UI or PUA benefits, that is by direct deposit or debit card.

Receipt of PUC Benefits

Claimants are assured that they will receive all retroactive benefits they are entitled to. PUC retroactive benefits will be provided dating back to April 5th. Depending on the claimant’s bank, a claimant may receive the benefits in one large sum or they may be sent out in different payments.

If a claimant has not received all of his/her payments, they should not be alarmed. They will receive all entitled benefits. If an individual does not receive all PUA benefits s/he believes s/he is entitled to, s/he should contact the NYS DOL via their NY.gov ID account (https://labor.ny.gov/signin) and send a message via the secure e-mail messaging system. Or they may appeal, refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Advocacy and Appeals.

Please note, if the NYS DOL requests additional information, they may send forms that the claimant must complete. Individuals will only be required to complete forms if they have been requested to do so by DOL via regular mail and/or a message in their DOL message (InBox).