New Unemployment Benefit Options under the CARES Act
The CARES Act created three temporary unemployment programs: the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. These programs are 100% federally funded through a voluntary agreement between individual states and the Department of Labor. With federal guidance issued by the Department, we have more information on how these programs are to be implemented.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
The FPUC provides $600 per week to individuals in addition to the weekly unemployment compensation amounts provided by the state. Individual states will administer FPUC and may either make payments in the same manner the state distributes unemployment benefits or through a separate weekly payment.
Several states provide additional unemployment compensation during times of particularly high unemployment. If an individual is receiving these “extended” or “additional” benefits from their state unemployment compensation program, they are not eligible for FPUC. All fifty states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible for this program. After a state enters into an agreement, FPUC is payable until the work week ending on or before July 31, 2020.
To be eligible for FPUC, the individuals must:
- Be entitled under state or federal law to receive regular unemployment compensation.
- Be entitled to at least $1 of unemployment compensation.
States may implement additional guidelines. The $600 payment is taxable and states using the program will withhold weekly taxes as necessary. Child support payments will be deducted from the FPUC amount in the same way as regular unemployment compensation.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
The PEUC program extends eligibility for unemployment benefits for up to thirteen weeks if state resources have been exhausted. Eligible individuals include those who:
- have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state law or Federal law with respect to a benefit year that ended on or after July 1, 2019;
- have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under any other state UC [unemployment compensation] law or Federal UC [unemployment compensation] law, or to compensation under any other Federal law;
- are not receiving compensation with respect to a week under the UC [unemployment compensation] law of Canada; and
- are able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work, while recognizing that states must provide flexibility in meeting the “actively seeking work” requirement if individuals are unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction.
Individuals receiving PEUC are also eligible for FPUC payments in addition to the weekly unemployment compensation set by the state. Weekly benefit amounts are dependent upon whether the individual is partially unemployed or totally unemployed. This program is available until December 31, 2020.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
A third program important to farmers and the self-employed is PUA. The PUA program expands the list of who is eligible to receive unemployment benefits due to loss of work from Covid-19. The guidance states that up to thirty-nine weeks of unemployment benefits are available and allows eligible individuals to receive the regular compensation amount set by their state, in addition to the $600 FPUC payment. To qualify, an individual must be able to certify he or she is unable to work due to:
- A COVID-19 diagnosis 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 a quarantine imposed 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.
Covered individuals include the self-employed, such as those “whose primary reliance for income is on the performance of services in the individual’s own business, or on the individuals own farm”; those seeking part-time work; individuals lacking sufficient work history; and those who otherwise do not qualify for unemployment compensation under state or federal law or PEUC. The program is available until December 31, 2020. It is important to note the quitting work without good cause to obtain these benefits qualifies as fraud.
Iowa is participating in all three programs. Iowa Workforce Development is currently accepting applications for CARES Act benefits. Applications must be submitted electronically. For more information and to access an application, visit the IWD website.
The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. The Center's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.