JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Labor’s (DOLIR’s) Division of Employment Security (DES) has launched the third federal program under the CARES Act in just under a month of having received its first guidance from the federal government. The latest program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program will provide up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. Those eligible for the PEUC will also be eligible for an additional $600 weekly supplement available through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for qualifying weeks.
The DES is sending letters and email notices to potentially eligible individuals who have previously applied for benefits and could potentially be eligible for the PEUC program. It encourages those who have previously exhausted their regular unemployment claims to check their correspondence in UInteract at uinteract.labor.mo.gov for additional instructions. For those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, but still have an active benefit year, the DES encourages those claimants to continue to file weekly requests for payment. Those that are potentially eligible for the PEUC program do not need to wait for receipt of the DES communications; potentially eligible individuals can log into UInteract today and look under their correspondence tab for instructions on how to file for a PEUC claim.
For the week ending April 25, 2020, the most recent week for which claims information is available, the DES reported a total of 54,710 initial claims. That is a decrease of 7.7 percent in initial claims compared to the previous week. Of the 54,710 initial claims, 48,661 reported their claims as being COVID-19 related; this is a decrease of 2.6 percent from the previous week.
There were a total of 253,772 individuals filling weekly requests for payments (continued claims status) for the week ending April 25, 2020, with a total of $62,717,444 in regular unemployment benefits being paid for the week ending April 25, 2020. This amount does not include payments fully funded by the new CARES Act programs.
Last week Missouri became one of the initial 10 states to start processing and paying claims for the self-employed and others ineligible for regular unemployment through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Under the PUA program, those individuals who qualify for benefit payments will receive between $133 and $320 a week plus a weekly $600 federal supplement available under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. Individuals eligible for the PUA program may provide proof of earnings to potentially increase the amount of benefits received each week.
The FPUC program, which began the week of March 29, 2020, provides that those eligible for at least one dollar of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement. The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020.
The FPUC, PUA and PEUC programs are not regular unemployment insurance programs but are new, fully federally funded assistance programs. All three of these provisions have been enacted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. For additional information about the FPUC, PUA and PEUC, visit labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.
The DES notes that child support payments, existing non-fraud over payments, and taxes, for those who have elected to have taxes withheld, reduces both the $600 payment as well as any weekly unemployment payments.
The DES continues to urge people to file for all unemployment benefits at uinteract.labor.mo.gov. Claimants are reminded to take extreme care to provide accurate information. Typos, wrong dates, incorrect answers to questions, and other data entry errors during the initial claims process cause most delays for eligible claimants. More than 90 percent of Missouri’s unemployed have been able to file claims online without assistance through the state’s UInteract system.
Before calling the DES, check for additional information on unemployment by visiting labor.mo.gov/coronavirus, watch how-to videos at labor.mo.gov/des/videos, check for correspondence and claim status on your account at uinteract.labor.mo.gov and ask unemployment questions of the Department’s virtual assistant at labor.mo.gov.