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Federal CARES Act

What you need to know and do about the federal CARES Act and Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that extends and provides additional unemployment benefits was signed into law by the President. ARP will keep the current weekly enhancement on jobless aid at $300 through the week ending September 4, 2021. 

It also extends the CARES Act programs Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for gig workers and those unemployed due to COVID-19 who are not traditionally eligible for regular unemployment compensation) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (for the long-term unemployed) until week ending September 4, 2021. The maximum duration of PUA benefits increases up to 79* weeks and for PEUC up to 53* weeks. Pennsylvanians who continue to be unemployed should continue certifying for benefits. Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, which gives some workers with both W-2 and 1099 income an extra $100 per week in aid, will also extend to week ending September 4, 2021.

*Federal Law and UC portal will display PUA benefits increases to 79 weeks and PEUC up to 53 weeks -- this is an error. Claimants will only receive PUA benefits increases to 75 weeks and for PEUC up to 49 weeks due to the last payable week of benefits being week ending September 4, 2021. 

​Extended Benefits (EB) Program
Effective May 16, 2021: The Extended Benefits (EB) program will end in Pennsylvania, due to the declining unemployment rate. The last payable week of EB is the week ending May 15, 2021. Individuals who had been collecting EB will automatically transition to PEUC. 
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - For UC Benefit Exhaustees
An additional 27 weeks of UC benefits, beyond the regular 26 weeks already provided, for a total of up to 53 weeks of coverage. Claimants with benefit weeks remaining after March 13, 2021 will receive PEUC payments through the benefit week ending September 4, 2021.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - Self-Employed, Contractors
Expanded eligibility up to 79 weeks for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UC benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors) through the benefit week ending September 4, 2021. 
​Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) - For eligible regular UC, PEUC, or EB claimants with a self-employment history
MEUC provides $100 in extra benefits to individuals with at least $5,000 in net income from self-employment during the applicable tax year through the benefit week ending September 4, 2021
​Lost Wages Assistance Program
The deadline to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program has passed. For more information on federal supplemental benefits for unemployed workers, refer to the section on the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program. 


The Federal CARES Act Pennsylvania Guidance PDF includes information on what you need to know and do. 

If you have already been approved for UC benefits, here is what you should do:

    • Do nothing – your benefits will automatically be updated. DO NOT CALL, it will only make it difficult for others to reach an agent.
What you may qualify to receive under FPUC
    • An additional $300/week until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020)
What you may qualify to receive under MEUC
    • An additional $100/week (MEUC) for eligible claimants with a self-employment history until September 4, 2021 (beginning January 2, 2021)

 


If you’ve exhausted 26 weeks of benefits after July 6, 2019 and you don't qualify for a new UC claim, here's what you should do:

    • Individuals whose unemployment benefit year has expired. Your benefit year expires one year (52 weeks) after your regular unemployment application for benefits date.  Apply for PEUC online.
    • Individuals who are still within their unemployment benefit year do NOT need to apply. Once you receive the balance of your regular unemployment benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in the PEUC program for the additional 53 weeks of benefits.
What you may qualify to receive
    • Up to 53 weeks of benefits
    • An additional $300/week (FPUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020) 
    • An additional $100/week (MEUC) for eligible claimants with a self-employment history until September 4, 2021 (beginning January 2, 2021)


If you are NOT eligible for UC or PEUC benefits, and are out of work specifically because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for PUA, here's what you should do:

    • You should first try to file for regular unemployment
    • If you are denied or ineligible, then apply for PUA online.
What you may qualify to receive
    • Up to 79 weeks of PUA benefits
    • An additional $300/week until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020)
 

UC and Federal CARES program progression PDF

Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Program Progression

Understanding the Programs & How to get Benefits

The U.S. Department of Labor directs the order of Unemployment Compensation programs. You will need to apply, and exhaust all benefits available under each of the below programs before being eligible to apply for the next program.

1.     Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation – Up to 26 Weeks of Benefits   

    • Regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits are available to individuals who have lost their job or had hours reduced through no fault of their own and are found financially eligible. File an Initial Claim to apply.
    • Eligible to receive $300/week (FPUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020).
    • May be eligible to receive $100/week (MEUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after January 2, 2021).

2.     Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – Up to 53 Weeks   

    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) becomes available after regular UC benefits are exhausted. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/PEUC to learn about applying.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount based on regular unemployment claim.
    • Eligible to receive $300/week (FPUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020).
    • May be eligible to receive $100/week (MEUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after January 2, 2021).

3.     Pennsylvania Extended Benefits (EB) – Up to 13 Weeks   

    • Extended Benefits becomes available after regular UC benefits and PEUC benefits are exhausted.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount is based on regular unemployment claim.
    • Number of Extended Benefit Weeks are typically 50 percent of the amount of regular UC claim weeks you were financially eligible to receive (e.g. regular UC claim eligibility for 23 weeks, means you'll receive 11.5 EB weeks of benefits.)
    • There is no application, EB-eligible claimants will receive a letter in the mail after their PEUC claim is exhausted.
    • EB claimants will simply file their weekly certification as they did for regular UC and PEUC.
    • Eligible to receive $300/week (FPUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020). 
    • May be eligible to receive $100/week (MEUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after January 2, 2021).

4.     Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Up to 79 Weeks   

    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is payable for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by one of the 11 COVID-19 related reasons set forth in the CARES Act, beginning on or after January 27, 2020. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/PUA to apply.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount is based on 2019 or 2020 taxes, 1099's, W-2, or any additional documentation that will verify 2019 or 2020 earnings. If you applied for PUA in 2020, your Weekly Benefit Amount is based upon the earnings for 2019. If you applied in 2021, your Weekly Benefit Amount is based upon your 2020 earnings. 
    • Eligible to receive $300/week (FPUC) until September 4, 2021 (beginning after December 26, 2020). 

The guidance from this document is subject to change.
Last updated: March 31, 2021