The latest rescue package signed into law on 11 March 2021 provides for:
- $1,400 per person direct stimulus payments for individuals earning less than $75,000 and for couples earning less than $150,000.
- PUA benefits extended 23 more weeks on top of the original 50 weeks (39 under CARES and 11 under Continued Assistance) for a total of 73 weeks until 6 September 2021.
- PEUC benefits extended 29 more weeks on top of the original 24 weeks (13 under CARES and 11 under Continued Assistance) for a total of 53 weeks until 6 September 2021.
- The additional $300 PUC per week starting on the week ending 1/2/2021 continued for all weeks until 6 September 2021.
- Work share programs are extended thru 6 Sept. 2021.
- Full federal funding of EB benefits extended thru 6 Sept. 2021.
- The federal subsidy for reimbursable employers is increased from 50% to 75% for unemployment weeks beginning after 31 March 2021 until the week ending 9/6/2021.
- Full, 100% funding of waived waiting week benefits retroactive to the week ending 1/2/21 (this subsidy was previously 50%) and effective through the week ending 9/6/2021. As the Department persuasively indicated on March 18th to the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, this federal funding means that claimants get an additional $300 PUC payment earlier into their hands as well as one week of regular unemployment benefits being funded by the federal government rather than Wisconsin employers (meaning that Wisconsin employers end up with the first week of benefits paid for by the feds rather than out of their unemployment accounts). At the March 18th meeting of the Advisory Council, labor caucus members pushed for full support of this waiting week waiver, but employer representatives for some reason had to think about whether employers would want to have one week of benefits subsidized or not.
- Waiver of all interest charges for states that have seen their unemployment trust funds go negative, hence free money (does NOT apply to Wisconsin, as the trust fund is $1 billion in the black as of February 2021).
- Waiver of federal income taxes on the first $10,200 received in unemployment benefits (regular, PUA, PEUC, EB, and PUC) for 2020 income taxes (not 2021 income taxes, which will be due in 2022).
- Additional funds offered to states to shore up and modernize their claim-filing systems “to help workers get the benefits they deserve when they need them.” States will need to submit grants to DOLETA to receive this funding.
- An expanded Child Tax Credit on income tax forms that will provide $300 per month to families with children under 6 and $250 per child 17 and under.
- 100% coverage of any COBRA premiums for any workers laid off and maintaining health care coverage through COBRA thru 30 Sept. 2021. Details and mechanisms for this coverage are to be determined and will include employer or insurer payments for that coverage on behalf of the former employees.
- Expanded subsidies for ACA health coverage that will apply to 2021 and 2022 calendar years. Anyone receiving unemployment benefits in 2021 will be automatically eligible for subsidized ACA health care coverage. The extent of those subsidies are to be determined.
- Financial shoring up of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation so as to keep pension payments flowing to millions of retirees.
There are income limits to many of these provisions. But, for nearly all unemployed workers in Wisconsin, those income limits will not be an issue.