UPDATE (18 Sept. 2021): Much of the guidance about back-dating PUA claims in this post does NOT apply for the MEUC claims at issue here.
New MEUC applications after Sept. 4th.
Insofar as state UC law provides for claims to be backdated, the state must continue to take new applications for MEUC as provided in their state law for late filing of claims after the date of termination or expiration (whichever comes first).
UIPL No. 14-21 Change 1 (12 July 2021) at 5. Wisconsin unemployment law provides that initial claims and weekly certifications can be back-dated for exceptional circumstances, like receiving bad or wrong advice from Department staffers. See Wis. Admin. Code § DWD 129.01(4).
While not addressed so far in federal guidance, it seems that a claimant, who suddenly becomes eligible for possible MEUC benefits after Sept. 4th, should have the option of applying for and receiving MEUC benefits. The original post follows.
MEUC (Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation) benefits have been over-shadowed by PUA, PEUC, and PUC benefits. But, many self-employed individuals who also engage in regular wage work may be eligible for this benefit that originated with the Continued Assistance Act.
MEUC benefits pay an additional $100 per week from the week ending 1/2/2021 thru the week ending 9/4/2021. You are eligible for MEUC benefits if:
- you receive regular unemployment benefits or PEUC benefits (receiving PUA benefits would mean that you have insufficient wage earnings from covered employment to establish a benefit year and so you are receiving those PUA benefits in large part based on your self-employment income), and
- you have $5000 in self-employment earnings in either 2019 or 2020.
The Department has created a FAQ for MEUC benefits. The problem is that the application for MEUC benefits is not available. Apparently, the application only becomes available to claimants on the portal when the Department concludes they might be eligible for MEUC benefits.
The Department’s own data indicates that very few MEUC applications have been filed and very little in MEUC benefits have been paid out. From the amount paid and the number of applications and the set amount of MEUC benefits at $100 per week, I can estimate the number of successful MEUC applications each week (presuming that prior approved applications continue to be paid).
w/e 2021 Week MEUC Apps MEUC paid paid/week new clmts paid/week 06/26/21 26 50 $24,800 $954 9.5 07/03/21 27 32 $61,000 $2,224 22.2 07/10/21 28 67 $47,000 $1,599 16.0 07/17/21 29 59 $20,600 $655 6.6 07/24/21 30 27 $8,500 $261 2.6 07/31/21 31 29 $22,200 $708 7.1 Totals 264 $184,100 64.0
From this data, out of 264 applications (i.e., initial MEUC claims) for MEUC benefits, around 64 claimants have been successful, an approval rate of only 24.25%. Obviously, a denial of MEUC eligibility can be appealed and probably should be.
But, those who might be eligible for MEUC benefits need to hurry. After September 4th, initial claims for MEUC benefits will no longer be possible. So, if you have self-employment income and regular wage work that should make you eligible for regular unemployment benefits or the PEUC extension, then you should apply for MEUC benefits.
Unfortunately, getting that MEUC application is difficult. You need to call a claims specialists at 414-435-7069 and ask to file a MEUC initial claim.
Call every few days with this same request until you get to file a MEUC initial claim. If the staffer does not know what you are talking about, then call again to connect with another staff. Repeat until you get to file a MEUC initial claim. See this post about my own experience with phone support.
Finally, I have already seen several self-employed individuals who are mistakenly reporting their self-employment income as regular wages on their weekly certifications. When receiving regular unemployment benefits, self-employment income and hours are reported separately from regular wage work. Hours spent in self-employment, if 16 or more hours in a week, will automatically disqualify you completely from receiving any unemployment benefits that week. But, self-employment income does NOT count at all against your weekly benefit rate (Wisconsin may be the only state that does NOT offset self-employment income from weekly benefits). As stated in the employers’ handbook:
Note: When receiving PUA benefits, self-employment income is handled in completely opposite manner. This is one reason why PUA benefits are only available when not eligible at all for regular unemployment benefits.
So, people who list their self-employment income as regular wages are seeing that self-employment income mistakenly offset against their weekly benefit rate. And, because of that mistaken treatment, the Department cannot see that they might be eligible for MEUC benefits because they have self-employment income.
These folks need to call a claims specialist as well to correct their weekly certifications. Before making that call/calls, list out the new hours and earnings that need to entered for each weekly certification that needs to be corrected.