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The Cost of $1 of Wages: When one dollar is worth $600.  New Guidance From Dept of Labor on Unemployment Benefits

The Cost of $1 of Wages: When one dollar is worth $600.  

The United States Department of Labor has issued new guidance to states about  the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 – Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program Reporting Instructions.  

The guidance seems to suggest that Florida employees who earn at least $275 in direct wages per week are not eligible for the additional $600 FPUC benefit even if their normal earnings were much higher than $275.  The guidance suggest that Florida employees who earn $274 per week in wages would be eligible for the additional $600 FPUC benefit.    

You can read it here: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/UIPL/UIPL_15-20_Change_1.pdf

The guidance is arranged in a question and answer format but the concerning guidance is buried in the questions for employees who are being paid less than their regular wages but more that $275 per week. 

3. Question: If an individual is ineligible to receive his/her weekly benefit amount (WBA) for a particular week (for example, because of a disqualification or deductible income), is the individual eligible for the FPUC payment?

Answer: No. The individual must be eligible to receive at least one dollar ($1) of underlying benefits for the claimed week to be eligible to receive the FPUC payment for that week.

4.  Question: Is an individual who is working part-time, or has gone back to work part-time, and is collecting partial UC benefits for a week eligible for FPUC?

Answer: Yes. An individual working part-time who otherwise meets state eligibility requirements for the underlying benefit is eligible to receive the FPUC payment.

5. Question: Does the additional FPUC payment affect how much a person could earn while working part time before a deduction is made from the weekly underlying benefit payment?

Answer: No. All earnings are deducted from the underlying UC benefit payment. If an individual’s earnings reduce the week’s underlying benefit payment to zero, the individual would not be eligible for FPUC for that week.

These questions and answers suggest that employees who received $274 in weekly compensation would be eligible for the additional $600 FPUC payment but an employee who received $275 in weekly compensation would not be eligible for FPUC benefits for that work week.

The Guidance from the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity confirms this interpretation.  You can read their guidance:  https://floridajobs.org/docs/default-source/reemployment-assistance-center/new-individual-faq-includes-cares-act-final.pdf

Q: My employer reduced my hours as a result of COVID-19. Will I be eligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits?

A: All workers negatively affected by COVID-19 are encouraged to apply for Reemployment Assistance benefits. If your hours and earnings have been substantially reduced, you may be eligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits. However, if your earnings total more than $275 a week, you will not be eligible for Reemployment Assistance benefits. The Reemployment Assistance team will review your application and determine your eligibility for benefits.  

See page 8 (emphasis added).  

Kwall Barack Nadeau urges people to contact their lawmakers to urge them to convene a special session to correct these bizarre interpretations of law.  

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