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COVID 19 - Unemployment Benefits Update

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The Act provides enhanced and expanded unemployment insurance (UI) to millions of workers throughout the country who are being furloughed, laid off, or finding themselves without work through no fault of their own because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CARES Act creates three new UI programs: (1) Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, (2) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and (3) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

1. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC)

From the date the bill is signed through July 31, 2020, all regular UI and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants will receive their usual calculated benefit plus an additional $600 per week in compensation. PUC may be paid either with the regular UI payment or at a separate time, but it must be paid on a weekly basis. PUC is not income for purposes of eligibility for either Medicaid or CHIP.

2. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

The CARES Act also provides an additional 13 weeks of state UI benefits, which will become available after someone exhausts all their regular state UI benefits. Oregon provides for 26 weeks of UI benefits, meaning under the PEUC, eligible employees may receive up to 39 weeks of UI benefits.

To receive PEUC, workers must be actively engaged in searching for work. The bill explicitly provides, however, that "a State shall provide flexibility in meeting such [work search] requirements in case of individuals unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction." Oregon has implemented temporary rules that workers who have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 can receive UI benefits without actively seeking work, as long as the employees stay actively engaged with their employer and return to work when called back.

3. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides emergency unemployment assistance to workers who are left out of regular state UI or who have exhausted their state UI benefits. Up to 39 weeks of PUA are available to workers who are immediately eligible to receive PUA. The program will expire on December 31, 2020, unless otherwise extended. Workers who are eligible for state UI are not eligible for the PUA program. Those eligible for PUA include self-employed workers, including independent contractors, freelancers, workers seeking part-time work, and workers who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for state UI benefits. Applicants will need to provide self-certification that they are partially or fully unemployed OR unable to work because of a CVODI-19 related-reason.

For more information please visit the Oregon Unemployment Website at: 

https://www.oregon.gov/employ/unemployment/pages/default.aspx 

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