All states have reportedly signed agreements with the Department of Labor to implement the CARES Act unemployment provisions.
Here is when you can expect to start receiving these benefits, if eligible, for Wisconsin and a few other states and territories.
These Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits are available to anyone who is no longer eligible for other kinds of unemployment benefits from the date the state signed its agreement with the Department of Labor.
If a person exhausts PEUC benefits, they should be eligible for PUA benefits according to Labor Department guidance. See UIPL 16-20, § 4.a., last par. on p.4.
These $600 payments have started in some states. Anyone who receives any other kind of unemployment benefit — regular, EB, PUA, or PEUC — will also receive an additional $600 PUC payment through July 31st.
These payments, when they start, will be dated to the first week of the claim (minus any waiting week).
- WI: to start making these payments the week of 26 April 2020
- CA: first checks start on April 12th
- DC: processing starts on April 17th, with the first payments starting on April 21st
- IL: checks have already started
- MA: April 9th
- NY: checks have already started
- OR: first checks to start arriving on April 13th and processing of these claims to start April 10th
These benefits are for those who do NOT qualify for regular unemployment benefits (either because they lack sufficient earnings to qualify or have lost gig work/self-employment because of the pandemic.
Note: More on PUA eligibility in another post later this week.
- WI: taking the first applications the week of 21 April 2020
- DC: taking applications by April 28th
- MA: new portal for PUA not ready until 4/30/2020
- OH: mid-May
- RI: up and running
As noted in the NY Times, there may be additional hurdles for these workers to satisfy before they are declared eligible by the states taking these applications.
These delays, in part, are occurring because of neglect and reliance on out-dated technology in managing state’s unemployment systems. For instance, Wisconsin is one of numerous states that still uses a mainframe computer application built on COBOL to process unemployment claims.
California Governor Newsom’s April 15th press conference revealed several important initiatives relating to both unemployment benefits and undocumented workers. First, an Executive Order issued this same day included:
- helpful language about mis-classification of independent contractors who should be receiving UI in California under AB5;
- a requirement that the state unemployment agency expand phone service to seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm;
- new authority for the unemployment agency to streamline and automate the state’s work sharing program; and
- an official announcement that the PUA program will start taking claims on April 28th (yesterday, CA announced that it will pay all PUA claimants the minimum PUA of $168 a week, plus $600 within 24-48 hours of when the individual files for benefits).
Second, the Governor announced a new $125 million Disaster Relief Fund for undocumented workers and families (which includes a contribution of $50 million from the philanthropic community) helping 150,000 undocumented Californians with grants to be disturbed by community-based organizations.
Other issues: reform, safety and health, and consumer protections
Michele Evermore of NELP advises that states can take several steps to make the unemployment claims simpler and more efficient.
- using WARN Act layoff provisions to coordinate with unemployment (something Wisconsin already does to a limited extent)
- making sure unemployment departments have access to claimants’ and employers’ tax filings for their employees (something I have recommended for years but which the Department has resisted).
And, to determine how unemployment interacts with the sick leave provisions, carefully review this complicated but still very useful flow-chart.
If you need guidance on worker safety and health issues connected to COVID-19, see this review of resources courtesy of NELP.
Help with consumer law issues arising from this the pandemic is available from the National Consumer Law Center.
Update (15 April 2020): Added info about California’s efforts to provide PUA and PUC benefits.