Many individuals living in the state of Pennsylvania are currently filing for unemployment benefits (“UC Benefits”). Up until December 28, 2013, an individual filing for UC Benefits could file for Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits (“EUC Benefits”) (under the EUC Program) after they exhausted all of their regular UC Benefits. The EUC program provides additional weeks of benefits to eligible individuals. The EUC program is authorized under the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008, Title IV of Public 110–252; 26 U.S.C. 3304 note, as amended.
As of December 28, 2013, the EUC program ended in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (“Department”) is still allowing eligible individuals to continue to file EUC claims for weeks after December 28, 2013. Those eligible individuals who are filing EUC claims every week will have their claims held until it is determined whether or not the EUC program will be extended.
Only “eligible individuals” are allowed to file EUC claims for weeks after December 28, 2013. Individuals are generally eligible for EUC Benefits after he/she has exhausted all their regular state UC Benefits. In addition to exhausting all regular UC Benefits, to be eligible for EUC Benefits, an individual must meet additional requirements as well:
- He/she must be at least partially unemployed;
- He/she must be able and available for suitable work;
- He/she cannot be disqualified for voluntarily leaving work;
- He/she cannot be discharged for willful misconduct;
- He/she must have had a regular UC claim with a benefit year that ended on or after May 1, 2007, OR currently have a regular UC claim on which they received the maximum amount of benefits;
- In the base year of the individual’s UC claim, he/she had total wages equal to or greater than one and a half times the amount of wages in their highest quarter; and
- He/she must be legally authorized to work in the United States if not already a citizen of the United States.
Congress has been working to extend the EUC program beyond December 28, 2013 in order to give EUC Benefits to those eligible individuals. On April 7, 2014, the Senate passed a bill to extend the EUC program beyond Dec. 28, 2013. However, until this bill is approved by the House and signed by the President, EUC benefits cannot be paid by Pennsylvania.
If Congress approves and the President signs the bill that extends the EUC program, those individuals currently filing EUC claims will be paid under the EUC extension. Based on current Federal Law, the amount each individual will receive depends on the total unemployment rate (“TUR”) in Pennsylvania. Each eligible individual will receive a specific amount of EUC Benefits depending on the TUR. There is potentially millions of dollars payable under the EUC program if Congress passes the extension. However, there has been little movement on whether the bill to extend EUC Benefits has been approved by the House and signed by the President.
Those eligible for EUC Benefits will have to wait a little longer.
Michael Kraemer is a partner with Kraemer, Manes & Associates, a law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, serving all of Pennsylvania, with attorneys focusing on business law, employment law, litigation, and civil issues. For more information please visit www.lawkm.com.