Answers to some of your unemployment questions as second stimulus programs roll out

Reporter: Sara Girard Writer: Jackie Winchester
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

A new year brings with it fresh questions related to unemployment.

Many of you are writing in to WINK News about payments, a lack of them, or partial payments. There are questions about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) — those are the unemployment programs continued in the stimulus bill — on top of the new programs, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).

Lindsey Bates wrote in saying she was collecting PUA, and then she was asked to apply for the Extended Benefits program. She asked, “Now my claim says my claim status is suspended but I am monetarily eligible. What does all this mean?”

The Department of Economic Opportunity told us, “When a claimant applies for Extended Benefits, their PUA status will show as suspended. The suspended status will go back to active, and the claimant will continue on with claiming their weeks for PUA.”

Lisa Yattaw wants to know: “Why don’t I get the extra from the federal pandemic funds?”

She’s talking about FPUC, the extra $300 a week on top of your underlying benefit program. The DEO says, as long as you’re collecting unemployment, you should get that money. The DEO just hasn’t started distributing it yet.

In a press release and email to WINK News, a representative from DEO says: “Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments will be requested through the same Request Benefit Payment link that the underlying benefit program utilizes.”

“Starting with the week ending January 2, 2021, claimants who are eligible for at least $1 of their underlying unemployment benefit amount, will be eligible to receive a $300 supplemental FPUC payment in addition to their weekly benefit amount. No additional action is required to receive the FPUC payment, but claimants should continue to request their weekly benefits to receive any benefit payments. These supplemental FPUC payments will be available to eligible claimants soon.”

“The FPUC program expires on March 14, 2021. This means the last payable week for FPUC is the week ending March 13, 2021.”

Lastly, Steven Sloneski asked if he needs to fill out a new application now that the unemployment programs have been extended.

The DEO says: “A new application will not be needed for the extension of PUA and PEUC; however additional documentation and information is likely going to be needed. Failure to provide that information may negatively impact benefits.

“The Department has provided additional weeks for nearly 1 million claimants who have not previously exhausted their federal benefits before December 26, 2020. These individuals will receive notification from the Department to log-in to their CONNECT account to request benefits for those additional weeks. The Department is working diligently to release weeks for additional claimants regarding the Continued Assistance Act.

“DEO is working diligently to implement the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program extensions for individuals who have exhausted their eligible benefits under the CARES Act.

“Claimants who have exhausted their eligible weeks of benefits under the CARES Act and are unemployed or partially unemployed after December 27, 2020, will be able to request benefit payments soon.

“Claimants who are unemployed or partially unemployed after December 27, 2020, and have not exhausted their eligible benefits should continue requesting benefit payments in order to continue receiving PEUC or PUA benefits.”

For ongoing updates and information on unemployment, follow WINK News Investigative Reporter Sara Girard on Twitter and Facebook.

She also updates the WINK News FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.

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