How the Bill Passed by Congress on March 11 affects regular Pennsylvania UC
The President signed American Rescue Plan on March 11, 2021.
Here’s how it affects regular state UC benefits:
The federal government has provided an extension of regular UC benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. Under the new law, PEUC is now available through the week ending September 4, 2021.
What do I need to do to get PEUC?
Continue filing your biweekly certifications. If you are on PEUC already, the new funds will be automatically added to your account.
If you exhaust your UC benefits, the state will automatically build you a claim for the PEUC benefits. You do not need to submit a separate application.
If you are on state Extended Benefits (EB), then you must exhaust EB, by filing using the “File an EB claim” button, before you automatically move back onto PEUC. Once you have exhausted EB, go back to filing normal unemployment biweekly claims. You will automatically be moved to PEUC. You do not need to apply.
Will I still get the $300 extra each week?
Yes, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) program will continue to provide an extra $300 per week until the week ending September 4, 2021. All you need to do is continue filing your biweekly certifications to receive these extra benefits. In the UC program, PUC benefits are paid the week after you receive your normal UC benefits.
What do I do if my UC claim year has ended or is ending soon?
Many workers filed their initial UC applications in March 2020 and are about to hit the end of their claim year.
I have worked since March 2020:
If you have worked since you filed your initial application in 2020 and your claim year has ended, then you should file a new application for UC benefits. If you have earned at least 6 x your current weekly benefit rate, then you may qualify for a new claim. If you qualify for a new claim, you will be able to collect weeks based on the new claim. If you are not eligible for a new claim, you can continue to collect benefits on the PEUC extension even after your claim year has ended.
Either way, just keep filing your biweekly claims.
I have not worked since March 2020:
If your claim year has ended and you have not worked since you initially filed, you should continue filing your biweekly claims. You can continue on the extension even after your claim year has ended.
What if my benefit rate on my new claim is lower than what I am getting now?
If you are eligible for a new claim, but your new weekly benefit rate is $25 less than your weekly benefit rate, the government will move you back onto PEUC until you exhaust those benefits at the higher rate. You will then have access to your new claim after PEUC has ended.
Do my UC benefits count as taxable income for 2020?
Yes, you do have to report your UC benefits as earned income when you file taxes. You will get a 1099-G form in the mail that lists your income from UC, PEUC, PUC, and/or the Lost Wage Assistance program from the end of the summer (the previous extra $300 per week). Now, under the American Rescue Plan, the federal government will forgive income taxes on up to $10,200 in benefits per person, as long as your gross income was less than $150,000. That means if you and a spouse both collected unemployment benefits, the government will forgive taxes on up to $20,400.
Philadelphia residents can have their taxes filed for free through the Campaign for Working Families. Visit their website here.
What if I’ve already filed my taxes?
You can find an amended return to claim the $10,200 exemption, but we recommend waiting until the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) gives more guidance on what to do if you’ve already filed your taxes and need to amend your return. We recommend reaching out to a free tax site for help with your taxes through the Campaign for Working Families here.
Should I wait to file my taxes?
We recommend waiting to file your taxes until after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued more guidance about how to get the tax forgiveness for up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits when filing your taxes.
Where can I find more information on regular Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
For current and accurate information about Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, check out UCHelp.org. This is a new online resource for Pennsylvania workers created by Philadelphia Legal Assistance.