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Over the last several months the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has updated its systems to distribute federal unemployment funds as part of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act which provides more weekly benefits to a broader class of workers for a longer period of time.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provides an additional $600 weekly payment to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs – State and Federal. The GDOL is distributing this additional payment to those currently receiving state or federal unemployment benefits. This supplement is an additional payment to regular weekly state unemployment benefits and includes all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending 4/4/2020.

Unemployment benefits are taxable income, and thus net UI payments may not be $600 weekly (or more depending on an employee’s state benefit eligibility), if the employee have elected to have state and federal taxes deducted. Federal taxes are deducted at 10% and state taxes at 6%. Other deductions may include court ordered or voluntary child support or repayment of an UI overpayment (one-half of the $600 FPUC payment will be deducted and applied to any outstanding overpayment).

One of the changes in the Georgia system that took place in March 2020 as part of the GDOL’s response to the pandemic was mandating that partial unemployment insurance claims to be filed by employers for full-time employees who work less than full-time during a pay period due to lack of work only. The employees must still be working for or employed by the employer and must have earned wages that do not exceed the maximum weekly benefit amount ($365) plus $50.00. Partial claims can be filed if the employer reduces an employee’s hours, and should not be filed when an employee is out of work due to disability, worker’s compensation, medical leave, permanent termination or where the employee turns down work offered by the employer.

If an employee is receiving partial benefits, and then is terminated by his or her employer, the employee has the right to receive full benefits. Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced this week that the GDOL has developed a program which will allow employer filed partial claims to be converted to individual claims. This new process will allow employees who are permanently terminated the opportunity to continue receiving benefits without interruption.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that provides unemployment benefits to individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. These individuals must first apply for regular benefits and be determined not to be eligible to receive state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits. Individuals determined ineligible to be paid traditional state benefits will receive an email with instructions for filing a PUA application or will find a link to the application in their My UI portal. Once the PUA application is submitted, it will be reviewed for eligibility and a written determination will be released with appeal rights. Applicants need to request payment for all eligible weeks since the closing of their business due to COVID-19. See detailed instructions regarding PUA on the GDOL website. Individuals who have already filed a claim with the GDOL and were determined not eligible for state unemployment benefits may be eligible to receive benefits under this program, do NOT have to refile a regular state claim.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, or PEUC, allows for up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. Individuals eligible for PEUC will receive an email with a link to the PUA application to potentially receive payments through this program until the PEUC system is available.

Be sure to visit the GDOL website for in-depth information: https://dol.georgia.gov.

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