What is the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program?

For several years, the authorities of the United States of America have created and financed social assistance programs oriented to unemployed people throughout local governments, who are responsible for receiving applications and verifying if applicants are qualified to receive the benefits.  Due to the current health situation, our country’s government has created the federal pandemic unemployment benefits, in addition to the existing programs.

This program is called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and was created in an attempt to soften the consequences that the pandemic has produced in the economy and employment situation of our citizens.

In this article, we will explain how this program works and what you must do to receive the benefits.

Assistance Programs For Unemployed Persons

As we mentioned earlier, prior to the creation of the federal pandemic unemployment benefits, there were already plenty of assistance programs for jobless people. Before knowing how the FPUC works, it is necessary that you know the pre-existing programs, since they constitute a requirement to receive the benefits of the FPUC.

Below, we mention which are the unemployment assistance programs, if you receive benefits from any of them, you will be able to opt for the extra $600 federal pandemic unemployment benefit:

  • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)
  • Self Employment Assistance (SEA)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
  • Short-Time Compensation (STC)
  • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Generally, we may wonder if already receiving a benefit would hold us back from applying to others, even if we met the eligibility requirements. However, if you receive any of these benefits, you will automatically get an FPUC payment.

You should not make another application or present new requirements different from the ones you showed at the time of applying to any of these programs, the federal pandemic unemployment benefits will be automatically deposited to the qualified and accepted people in the aforementioned programs.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Vs. Extended Benefits

The Federal Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (CAA), part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, is a law that extended from December 27, 2020, to March 14, 2021, some provisions regarding benefit programs for jobless people.

The programs that have been extended are Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) that grants 13 additional weeks of benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), a program created for those people who (at first) could not apply for unemployment benefits (self-employed, freelancers, contractors…).

At the same time, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program was created, which provides an additional benefit to citizens who received unemployment insurance (UI).

So, as we mentioned above, all you have to do in order to receive federal pandemic unemployment benefits is being eligible for any of the existing assistance programs, and consequently, the additional benefit will be granted to you.

Now, the Extended Benefits (EB) is a program in which the unemployment benefits are extended for around 10 to 13 weeks (depending on the state) but only during periods of high state or national unemployment. But, how do we know when there is a high unemployment period? Each local government indicates when the unemployment rate is so high that the “extended periods” are available. Consequentially, beneficiaries can apply to those once the regular weeks to receive their UI benefits are exhausted (in many states it is 26 weeks).

Due to the current pandemic situation, a high unemployment period is taking place, that’s why those citizens, who have exhausted their Unemployment Insurance (IU) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), can apply for extended benefits.

It is important for us to remember the main difference between both assistance programs for jobless people; Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation constitutes an additional payment to those who receive the regular Unemployment Insurance, while the Extended Benefits is a program that allows people to request an extension of the payment of the benefits due to a high period of unemployment.

Although the pandemic constitutes a high period of unemployment and because of that the Extended Benefits can be requested (once the unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, PEUC has been exhausted), there may be another period in which local governments inform the program availability since its main objective comes from the unemployment rate in each state. While the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is available only in the current situation and constitutes an additional payment to the benefits received through the other programs.

Only beneficiaries of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, PUA (freelancers, self-employed, contractors, “gig” workers) cannot receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits.

You may verify more detailed information about these programs here.