In earlier LR What You Need to Know Now updates here and here, we discussed Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUA), which is the $600 per week extra payment to workers receiving regular unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. The $600 benefit will be paid until July 31, 2020, unless the date is extended by Congress. On May 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued guidance to states regarding administration of FPUA. Here are the key take-aways:
- A worker is entitled to FPUA if she receives at least $1.00 in unemployment benefits (UI). This includes workers who receive shared work UI.
- If a worker’s UI benefit is reduced to zero because of a UI benefit offset to recover prior overpayments, she remains eligible for FPUA.
- An individual working part-time (or who goes back to work part-time) who is eligible for UI benefits is eligible to receive the FPUA payment.
- The FPUA payment doesn’t affect how much a person receiving UI can earn while working part-time.
- If a worker’s earnings reduce a week’s UI payment to zero, she is not eligible for FPUA for that week.
- Like UI, FPUA benefits are subject to federal withholding.
- FPUA benefits are paid at the same time as UI benefits (weekly or biweekly, depending on the state).
A word on overpayment of FPUA benefits:
- As with regular UI, states can recover FPUA benefits that are overpaid (i.e. paid when the worker was not entitled to receive them).
- Overpayments are offset against future FPUA benefits, not against UI benefits.
- A state may waive repayment by the worker if it determines that receipt of the overpayment was not the worker’s fault and repayment would not be fair or equitable.
- Individuals who fraudulently obtain FPUA benefits are subject to prosecution under federal law.