Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act

Updated April 9, 2020
Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act
This In Focus summarizes the Unemployment Insurance
(DUA). All PUA benefits, like other UI benefits, are
(UI) provisions in Title II, Subtitle A, of the Coronavirus
augmented by $600 a week by FPUC through July 2020.
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act; P.L.
116-136; enacted March 27, 2020). It also provides a brief
PEUC: Additional Weeks of Benefits
comparison with the UI provisions enacted in the Families
Section 2107 creates PEUC, which authorizes up to 13
First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA; P.L. 116-127).
additional weeks of federally financed UI benefits for
individuals who exhaust state and federal UI benefits and
Additional $600 Weekly Federal Compensation
are able, available, and actively seeking work, subject to
Section 2104 provides an additional, federally financed
COVID-19-related flexibilities.
$600 benefit (Federal Pandemic Unemployment
Compensation [FPUC]) that augments weekly UI benefits
PEUC is administered by states and is authorized through
including regular, state Unemployment Compensation
the end of December 2020. The PEUC benefit amount is
(UC), Extended Benefits (EB), Pandemic Unemployment
the WBA as calculated under state law. All PEUC benefits
Assistance (PUA, see description below), and Pandemic
would be increased $600 a week by FPUC through July
Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC, see
2020. (During the period that PEUC is authorized, states are
description below). This FPUC is payable through
prohibited from reducing UC benefit amount or duration.)
agreements with states for weeks of unemployment ending
on or before July 31, 2020. (During the period that this
Other UI Provisions
payment is authorized, states are prohibited from reducing
 Section 2103 provides, through December 2020, 50%
their UC benefit amount or duration.)
federal funding of regular UC benefits based on service
with reimbursing employers, which are state and local
FPUC income is disregarded for the purposes of Medicaid
and the Children’s Heal
governments, Indian tribes, and nonprofit organizations
th Insurance Program (CHIP).
that have opted not to pay UI taxes, but instead
PUA: Expanded Benefit Eligibility
reimburse states for UC benefits paid to their former
employees. This Section provides financial relief to
Section 2102 of the CARES Act creates a temporary,
these reimbursing employers. It also allows for state
federal UI program for individuals not otherwise eligible
flexibility in the timing of required reimbursement
for UI benefits (e.g., self-employed, independent
payments for these employers.
contractors, gig economy workers): PUA. PUA is
administered by states and provides up to 39 weeks of
 Section 2105 provides 100% federal financing through
federally financed UI benefits to unemployed workers who
the end of December for UC benefits provided during
(1) are ineligible for any other state or federal UI benefit;
the first week of unemployment in state UC programs
(2) meet conditions related to being unemployed, partially
with no one-week waiting period (thus, incentivizing
unemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19; and (3)
states that require one-week waiting periods before
are not able to telework and are not receiving any paid
receiving UC under state law to remove them).
leave. The PUA maximum duration of 39 weeks is offset by
any weeks of regular UC or EB.
 Section 2106 waives federal requirements regarding
merit staffing for state UC programs on an emergency,
PUA is available in all states and U.S. territories, subject to
temporary basis in response to COVID-19 until
agreements with U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). PUA
December 31, 2020. This waiver is limited to certain
pays benefits for weeks of unemployment, partial
temporary actions taken by states to quickly process UI
unemployment, or inability to work beginning on or after
claims, including rehiring former employees and
January 27, 2020, and ending on or before December 31,
temporary hiring.
2020 (hereinafter, end of December 2020). PUA benefits
are authorized to be paid retroactively.
 Sections 2108-2111 authorize 100% federal financing of
Short-Time Compensation (STC; work sharing) in states
The PUA benefit amount is the weekly benefit amount
with existing programs and 50% federal financing for
(WBA) as calculated under state law based on recent
states that set up STC programs (up to the equivalent of
earnings (subject to the minimum benefit under Disaster
26 weeks of benefits for individuals) through the end of
Unemployment Assistance [DUA], which is half of the
state’s average weekly
December 2020. Additionally, $100 million in federal
UC benefit amount). In territories
grants to support STC are authorized. DOL is required
without UC programs, the PUA benefit is determined by
to provide STC technical assistance to states. For
DUA regulations. For background on DUA, see CRS
background on STC programs, see CRS Report R40689,
Report RS22022, Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act
Compensated Work Sharing Arrangements (Short-Time
 waivers of certain federal UI requirements for state UC
Compensation) as an Alternative to Layoffs.
programs (Section 2106 of the CARES Act adds merit
staffing, in some circumstances, to the list of waived
 Sections 2112-2114 provide $50 million to waive the
federal UI requirements);
seven-day waiting period for Railroad Unemployment
Insurance (RRUI) benefits. An FPUC-like benefit is
 waivers of interest payments and suspension of interest
authorized, providing $1,200 for RRUI biweekly
accrual on federal advances (loans) to states to pay UC
benefits for RRUI through July 2020, as well as an
benefits through December 2020;
additional 13 weeks of federally financed RRUI benefits
through the end of December 2020, comparable to
 DOL assistance to states in establishing, implementing,
PEUC. For background on RRUI, see CRS Report
and improving STC programs (Sections 2108-2111 of
RS22350, Railroad Retirement Board: Retirement,
the CARES Act provide temporary, federal financing
Survivor, Disability, Unemployment, and Sickness
(100% or 50%, depending on state action) of STC
benefits as well as $100 million in grants to support
STC programs); and
 Section 2115 provides $25 million in funding for the
DOL Office of Inspector General for audits,
 temporary, 100% federal financing for EB (under
investigations, and oversight related to the UI provisions
permanent law: 50% state, 50% federal) from enactment
in the CARES Act.
until the end of December 2020, but only for states that
receive both halves of the emergency administrative
 Section 2116 authorizes DOL to issue operating
grants. This law also temporarily removes the incentive
instructions and other guidance needed to implement the
in EB law for states to have a waiting week for their
UI provisions in the CARES Act.
regular UC programs through December 2020. (As of
this date, EB is not available in any state.)
Interactions with UI Provisions in H.R. 6201/P.L.
Additional Resources
In general, the UI provisions in P.L. 116-136, the CARES
For more details on the UI provisions in the CARES Act, as
Act, are non-overlapping with the UI provisions in P.L.
well as additional introduced legislation related to UI and
116-127, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
COVID-19, see CRS Report R45478, Unemployment
Insurance: Legislative Issues in the 116th Congress
As described above, the UI provisions in the CARES Act
focus on temporary federal interventions to expand UI
For background on permanent-law UI programs and
benefit eligibility; provide additional federally financed
benefits, see CRS Report RL33362, Unemployment
weeks of UI benefits; and augment all weekly UI benefit
Insurance: Programs and Benefits.
payments with additional federally financed benefits
amounts, among other provisions.
For DOL guidance to states on implementing the UI
provisions in FFCRA and the CARES Act, see
The UI provisions in the Families First Coronavirus
Response Act provide various types of assistance to states,
For minimum DUA amounts, see DOL Unemployment
Insurance Program Letter, No. 11-20, Attachment 1,
 $1 billion in emergency administrative grant funding to
Minimum Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA),
states in calendar year 2020 for administrative purposes.
(March 19, 2020), available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/
(Half of this amount is available to all states that meet
certain requirements related to UC eligibility
notifications and claims access. The second half of this
Katelin P. Isaacs, Specialist in Income Security
amount is available to states that experience at least a
Julie M. Whittaker, Specialist in Income Security
10% increase in UC claims over the previous calendar
year and meet certain other requirements related to
easing UC eligibility requirements for individuals
affected by COVID-19.);


Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act

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