In order to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus on workers, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is implementing new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The COVID-19 relief package temporarily provides an additional $600 per week, makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits and extends unemployment compensation (UC) benefits for an additional 13 weeks.
These benefits are added to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks.
Unemployment benefits are being expanded to provide an additional $600 per week beginning the week ending April 4, 2020, through the week ending July 25, 2020. This temporary emergency increase in benefits is referred to as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.
The Department of Labor and Industry issued the first $600 payments April 10. All eligible claimants that filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular UC payment should expect to see the additional money either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. For other eligible claimants who have not yet received a regular UC payment, they will receive the extra $600 the week after receiving their first UC payment.
Beneficiaries who have elected to have their federal withholding taxes taken out of their benefits will see the same 10% reduction in the $600 payment, which will drop the benefit to $540 a week.
The $600 is paid separately from the biweekly state benefit, and residents do not need to apply.
The U.S. Department of Labor requires that states track these workers separately from regular unemployment beneficiaries because the payments are coming out of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Eligible claimants will receive backdated payments to Jan. 27, or the first week they were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever of the dates is later. These unemployment benefits end December 31.
Workers who exhaust the regular 26 weeks of unemployment benefits will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks starting with the week beginning March 29 through the end of the year.