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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

T + T


The CARES Act of 2020 expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits to all 50 states. It created three separate benefits, one benefit ending July 2020 and the other two benefits ending December 27, 2020. However, all three benefits were extended through March 14, 2021 with the signing of the stimulus package on December 27, 2020. The three expansions included:

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

This section covers the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit, which provides an additional $300 per week to beneficiaries of both traditional UI benefits as well as the new PUA benefit.


Regular Unemployment Insurance benefits 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 the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation


Originally through the CARES Act, beneficiaries of both regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), were entitled to an additional $600 per week, which ended July 26, 2020.

Under the new stimulus package, both UI and PUA beneficiaries are entitled to an additional $300 per week, under the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC). The full $300 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.

The $300 PUC benefit became available in NYS beginning the week ending January 3, 2021, and will be available through March 14, 2021, unless new legislation is passed.


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.


Social Security Insurance Based Benefits

The PUC benefit, as well as the PUA benefit, does not reduce Security Retirement, Disability, Survivor or Dependent insurance-based benefits.

Cash Assistance, SNAP, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan

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

Public Housing and Section 8

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


The PUC benefit, as well as the PUA benefit amount (and regular UI), will count as unearned income for SSI purposes. Therefore, it is likely that many SSI beneficiaries will have their SSI benefits suspended because of receiving the additional PUC benefit. However, SSI recipients will not lose their Medicaid coverage while in receipt of the additional PUC benefit, at least for the duration of the coronavirus emergency. Once the extra PUC benefit 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).

Qualifying for the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation


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, also see above, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Qualifying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.


Part-time workers who are eligible to receive PUA or UI benefits, are eligible for the full PUC benefit per week, as long as they qualify for at least a partial PUA or UI benefit.

Applying 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.

Certifying for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

To receive PUC benefits, beneficiaries should certify for benefits weekly through the DOL website at NYS DOL via their ID account at