UPDATE: Georgia and Federal Unemployment Insurance Developments

Posted by Kenneth N. Winkler on

The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) continues to update its systems to distribute federal Unemployment funds as part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) bringing economic relief to many Georgians. As a reminder, the CARES Act established three new federal unemployment programs:

  1. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC);
  2. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA); and
  3. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC).  

On April 13, 2020, the GADOL announced these updates regarding these programs.

GDOL update on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC)
The GDOL announced that it will begin sending the additional $600 per week payment under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC) to those currently receiving state unemployment benefits beginning this week. This supplement will be an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and will include all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020.

The amount may not be $600 for individuals who have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes are deducted at 6%. Unemployment benefits are taxable income. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an unemployment insurance (UI) overpayment (one-half of your $600 PFUC payment will be deducted and applied to your outstanding overpayment).

PROGRAMBENEFIT
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

Provides an extra $600 per week in federal benefits through the end of July.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Extends benefits to self-employed, freelancers, and independent contractors.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
Extends benefits for an extra 13 weeks after regular unemployment compensation benefits are exhausted.

GDOL update on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC)
The GDOL also announced that it has modified its current online unemployment application to include new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These individuals must be determined ineligible for state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits. 

Once an applicant is deemed ineligible, he/she will be asked additional questions and information about past wages and earnings to continue the process. See detailed instructions on PUA. Once the application is received, it will be held and it will be automatically processed once programming of this program is complete.

Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GADOL and were determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits and may be potentially eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a claim. These individuals will be identified once programming of this program is complete and they will be sent an email with a link to provide additional information, if necessary, for the PUA Program.

GDOL update on The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC)
The PEUC allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances.

The GDOL recently received the guidelines on PEUC from the U.S. Department of Labor and is working quickly to develop and implement the new PEUC system. Individuals potentially eligible for this program will be identified and sent notification with PEUC claim filing instructions.   

More detailed summaries of the FPUC and PUA are below:

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program
The FPUC gives eligible individuals who are already collecting certain types of unemployment insurance benefits an extra $600 per week in federal benefits through the end of July. FPUC is a flat amount given to people who are receiving unemployment insurance, including those who receive a partial unemployment benefit check. If the individual is eligible to receive at least one dollar ($1) of underlying benefits under state unemployment laws for the claimed week, the claimant will receive the full $600 FPUC.

This program also applies to people who receive benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — which covers freelancers, independent contractors and gig workers. It  also applies to people who receive benefits under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which extends 13 additional weeks of UI to people who have exhausted their benefits (see below).

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a program that will provide unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who will not qualify for state unemployment benefits.

In general, PUA provides benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state unemployment compensation (UC) law except they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons identified in Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I) of the CARES Act and listed below:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of an imposed quarantine as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

​Federal guidelines for PUA define “self-employed individuals” as those whose primary reliance for income is on the performance of services in the individual’s own business.

For weeks of unemployment beginning on or after March 27, 2020, and ending on or before July 31, 2020, individuals eligible to receive PUA are also eligible to receive FPUC, authorized under section 2104 of the CARES Act. FPUC provides an additional $600 per week.

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