PUA benefits now available to SSDI recipients

Last night I received from a source a letter from the Employment and Training Administration for the US Dep’t of Labor. This letter explained that SSDI recipients are eligible for PUA benefits.

Dear Secretary Frostman:

The U.S. Department of Labor (Department) received your letter regarding Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) eligibility for State of Wisconsin recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments. Your correspondence was forwarded to the Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for response. ETA is responsible for administering the federal-state Unemployment Insurance (UI) program within the Department.

Wisconsin’s state law provides that an individual is “ineligible for benefits” for each week in the month in which an individual receives SSDI. Wisconsin interprets this provision of its law as a prohibition on receiving regular unemployment compensation (UC) for individuals receiving SSDI. The plain language text of the Wisconsin law, and the Department’s understanding of the State’s interpretation of its law, would disqualify individuals who receive SSDI from eligibility for regular UC. Because these individuals are ineligible for regular UC, they meet the PUA eligibility requirement of “not eligible for regular compensation.” Therefore, if they are unemployed, have reduced employment, or are unable to work or are unavailable to work due to one of the specified COVID-19 reasons outlined in the CARES Act or the Department’s guidance in UI Program Letter No. 16-20, they may be eligible for PUA benefit.

Because Section 2102 of the CARES Act does not provide for the treatment of other income an individual may have, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) regulations govern this issue. The DUA regulation at 20 C.F.R. 625.13(a)(6) provides that the prorated amount of SSDI an individual receives is required to be deducted from DUA payments but only to the extent that this benefit would be reduced under the applicable state law. Under Wisconsin law, SSDI income is not reduced from an individual’s entitlement to regular UC because, under the State’s law, an individual is ineligible for any UC if they are receiving SSDI. Therefore, it appears that under Wisconsin law, SSDI income would not be reduced from an individual’s DUA (or PUA) entitlement.

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring that payments of PUA are consistent with the applicable state and federal laws and regulations for this program. If you have any additional questions, please contact ETA at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

Sincerely,
John Pallasch
Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training

With this letter, 158,000+ workers in Wisconsin (and 314,000 workers in North Carolina who were caught in legal quagmires because of implementation problems in that state) now definitively qualify for PUA benefits, where before they had no options.

Hallelujah.

Princess Leia smiling

Update (28 July 2020): DWD is advising SSDI recipients to apply for PUA benefits. Fox6 has this report on the fix. Wisconsin Examiner has this report detailing the problem and this report on the fix.

Update (30 July 2020): Fox6 has this additional report on this change in policy. Wisconsin Watch follows up on folks affected by this change in policy. Wisconsin Examiner has this follow-up on this policy change.

 

9 thoughts on “PUA benefits now available to SSDI recipients

  1. Amazing! I applied for PUA in early May and my status has never changed. Should I wait for it to change or is it still pointless to try calling and getting busy signals right now?

    • It’s pretty easy to get through on the PUA hotline. But all they really tell you is just last week they increased it toup to another 30 days before your claim is processed. Unless they decide to do whats right and put us all in the fast-track to getting paid. I would not be shocked if they made us wait another 30 days or longer, but certainly hope they don’t drag their feet!

  2. many thanks for all you have done to help disabled workers who lost their income due to this pandemic. So hopeful to read this news. Please let it happen soon.

  3. I am interested to see how the Labor Board responds to the briefs that were filed last week. What if it decides that that state law barring disabled workers is not legal as to regular unemployment insurance? Then it could be argued that state insurance is valid and primary and the PUA does not apply? That would be an awful mess!!

  4. I lost my job, April 4th applied for PUA as soon as i was able. I got my denial letter for basic UI, but I never was denied or accepted to receive PUA. ITS ONLY BEEN 4 MONTHS! Now I’m guessing it’ll take 2 months to get my money. How is everyone surviving on their little. SSDI? I have really need/needed assistance but there’s nothing available. Due to stress I’ve had health issues from all this. Thankfully I had a freezer full of food but I went to the bare minimum to survive. I’ve been following updates on this. I can’t afford an attorney, especially since I never had a true denial. They should pay extra for stress, health and damages for making us go upto 6 months with nothing. Suggestions??? I’m thankful they finally see they were wrong making us try to live without for so long and I’m glad we will finally get what’s ours. I’ve been begging my boss to give me my job back but they don’t have the hours. I never wanted to be layed off!

  5. Pingback: Next steps for SSDI recipients | Wisconsin Unemployment

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