The CARES Act expanded Unemployment Insurance benefits through three different programs:
- Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – increasing the amount of weekly benefits a qualifying individual may receive;
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – expanding the type of worker that can qualify for Unemployment Insurance;
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – expanding the number of weeks a qualifying individual can receive benefits.
This section covers the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit, which provides an additional $600 per week to beneficiaries of both traditional UI benefits as well as the new PUA benefit.
If you are a Benefits Plus subscriber, for additional information on traditional Unemployment Insurance Benefits, refer to Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits. For subscription information visit: https://bplc.cssny.org/home/subscription_options.
Description of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
EXPANDING THE AMOUNT OF THE BENEFIT
The CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week through the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) benefit. This $600 is for beneficiaries of both traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, as well as for individuals who are eligible under the new expanded qualifying guidelines of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit, see below. Qualifying individuals will receive either the traditional UI or PUA benefit amount, plus the $600.
The full $600 of the PUC is available to all claimants when they are entitled to at least $1 in partial benefits, whether it is traditional UI or PUA, when they certify for the previous week, see below, Qualifying for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Part-Time Workers.
PUC became available in NYS beginning April 5, 2020 and is currently slated to end July 31, 2020, unless the U.S. Congress acts.
HOW PUC COORDINATES WITH OTHER BENEFITS
The additional $600 per week does not count when determining eligibility for insurance-based benefits, such as Social Security Retirement, Disability or Survivor Insurance, or Medicare.
The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount, will count as unearned income when determining eligibility during Cash Assistance application and recertification procedures.
Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan
The $600 is excluded from income calculations when determining eligibility during application and recertification procedures, although the PUA benefit amount is included.
Public Housing and Section 8
The $600 is excluded from income calculations for Public Housing, Section 8
and other HUD administered housing programs.
The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount, will count as unearned income when determining eligibility during SNAP application and recertification procedures.
The $600, as well as the PUA benefit amount, will counted as unearned income for SSI purposes, thus it is very likely that many SSI beneficiaries will have their SSI benefits suspended. However, SSI recipients will not lose their Medicaid coverage while in receipt of the additional $600, at least for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.
Once the extra $600 ends on July 31st, and as long as the regular PUA benefit amount does not make them ineligible, SSI recipients will have their SSI benefits reinstated.
Please note, SSI recipients may encounter issues because of the $2,000 asset limit for individuals ($3,000 for couples). This is especially problematic for individuals who receive multiple weeks of retroactive benefits of PUC at one time due to the lags in NYS implementation of this new program. If SSI recipients receive retroactive benefits that would push them over the SSI asset limit, they should consider spending those funds before their suspension period ends.
Qualifying for the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
Claimants who qualify under regular Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) or who qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program qualify for PUC. Refer to Benefits Plus, Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Qualifying for regular Unemployment Insurance Benefits for information on qualifying for UIB.
PART TIME WORKERS
Part-time workers who are eligible to receive PUA, as long as they work less
than 4 days a week and earn less than $504 per week, and are eligible for a partial benefit amount are eligible for the full $600.
Case Example 1: Andy became entitled to PUA benefits beginning April 5th. He certifies for benefits on April 12th. He is determined eligible for $182 in PUA benefits. He indicates that he did not work in the previous week. Andy is entitled to $182 in PUA, plus the $600 in PUC.
Case Example 2: During the week of May 10th, Andy worked two days, but earned less than $504 for the week. He certifies for benefits on May 17th. During the certification process Andy indicates he worked 2 days, but earned less than $504. His PUA benefit will be reduced by half according to the rules of the UI program in NYS. He would receive $91 in PUA benefits and the full $600 for the week of May 10th.
Case Example 3: During the week of May 17th, Andy worked 4 days and earned more than $504 for the week. He certifies for benefits on May 24th. During the certification process Andy indicates he worked 4 days and earned more than $504. According to the rules of the UI program in NYS, he is not entitled to either his PUA benefit or the $600 PUC for the week of May 17th.
Note: To learn more about how part-time work is handled by NYS DOL for beneficiaries, refer to Benefits Plus, Cash Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Returning to Work, Work and Its Impact on Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
Filing for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
Once a claimant has been approved for traditional Unemployment Insurance benefits or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance no additional action is required. PUC is automatically granted for all individuals who qualify under either program.