WETHERSFIELD — State Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby has provided updates on unemployment application numbers and the letters going out this week to some Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation filers who are close to exhausting their federal benefits.

Commissioner Westby said, “We are urging Connecticut workers who are about to exhaust their PEUC benefits to file for extended state benefits. It’s important for claimants to file for extended benefits as soon as they receive the filing instructions — and not before — in order to transition from PEUC to the state extended benefits program that was triggered due to high unemployment.”

Upon notification that their PEUC benefits are ending, filers may apply for extended benefits by using the green button on the DOL website. Once approved for benefits, claimants will file online weekly, following the same process as for state unemployment insurance benefits and PEUC.

Extended benefits are considered taxable and are eligible for voluntary withholding. Extended benefits applications can only be filed upon the exhaustion of the PEUC and not earlier.

To be eligible for extended benefits, filers must have a benefit year that ends after May 1, 2020, and be totally or partially unemployed.

They must have exhausted all rights to unemployment insurance under state law and have also exhausted all Pandemic Emergency Compensation entitlement.

Filers must have been paid wages by an employer who is subject to the Connecticut Unemployment Compensation Act.

Filers must meet eligibility requirements related to base period benefit amount.

Commissioner Westby has temporarily suspended the work search eligibility requirements; claimants will be notified when they must begin making reasonable efforts to find a job in order to maintain eligibility.

The DOL is currently administering the regular state program and three federal programs that began in May after Congress passed the CARES Act, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for anyone who is not able to collect regular unemployment benefits such as those who are self-employed, real estate agents or other people who do not have enough earnings to qualify; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, a 13-week program for individuals who have exhausted state unemployment insurance benefits; and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, the $600 additional weekly “plus up” benefit set to expire July 25.

During the pandemic, upon filing for state unemployment, claimants receive a monetary determination letter that explains their maximum benefits. Once state unemployment benefits have been exhausted, the claimant may file for PEUC. Upon exhausting the PEUC benefit, a filer then triggers on to extended benefits under the state unemployment insurance program.

These extended benefits are in force when the state is experiencing high unemployment such as the Great Recession and now in the pandemic. All filers who receive at least $1 in unemployment benefits are also entitled to FPUC, commonly known as the $600 per week “plus up,” that is due to expire July 25.

Since March 13, the DOL has received 656,751 unemployment applications and processed 632,819 of them. The agency has disbursed $962 million in state unemployment benefits, $90 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, $44 million in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for individuals who have exhausted regular UI benefits, and $1.9 billion in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

The department has also released some tips for filers and encourages claimants to read the FAQs on the website and check the Quick Clicks section on the filing pages.

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