Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced today that Alabama will begin processing unemployment compensation claims under all programs created by the passage of the federal CARES Act on March 27, 2020.

Programs included in the legislation:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - provides unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees. This benefit is retroactive to January 27, 2020. *Alabama will begin processing these claims effective April 13, 2020.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) - provides $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit begins March 29, 2020. *Alabama began paying these benefits on April 8, 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - allows for an additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances. *Alabama will begin processing these claims effective April 20, 2020.

Workers who became unemployed as a direct result of COVID-19 Pandemic (DR-4503 or EM-3472) may qualify for this unemployment assistance.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: People who live in or worked in Alabama and became unemployed due to the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration during the period of January 20, 2020 and continuing, may also be eligible for assistance under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which was triggered when President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act on March 27, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: People who live in or worked in Alabama and became unemployed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic during the period of January 27, 2020 and continuing, may be eligible for assistance under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which was triggered when President Trump designated Alabama as a disaster area on March 29, 2020.

People who may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance include individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or pandemic emergency compensation (PEUC), including:

the self-employed,

those seeking part-time employment,

church employees,

gig economy workers,

nonprofit and governmental workers,

workers who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation benefits,

individuals lacking sufficient work history, and

those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or PEUC.

Claimants who already filed for PUA may have received a notice stating that they are monetarily ineligible for benefits at this time. However, they may still be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). A document labeled the PUA-D4503-MI, will be mailed to all PUA claimants. Claimants should complete the form with the required documentation as soon as possible in order to complete the processing of the PUA claim. Claimants will not be required to file another claim as ADOL will determine eligibility for PUA based on the information provided to the agency as outlined in the document that will be mailed to claimants.

Further instructions for the self-employed: The self-employed should enter their name as the employer, and use either their address or their business address. Claimants should continue to certify weekly, and once these claims are processed, all eligible weeks will be paid retroactively.

PUA is payable for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by the COVID-19 related reasons beginning on or after January 27, 2020. PUA is not payable for any week of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): The U.S. Department of Labor issued federal guidance late Friday, April 10, 2020 for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provisions of the CARES Act. PEUC provides for 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits after a claimant exhausts all entitlement to regular unemployment. Once a claimant’s benefit year ceases, they can then establish a new benefit year to requalify for regular unemployment. The weekly benefit amount under the PEUC program is the prior weekly benefit amount plus the additional $600 provided for under FPUC (Max. $875 in Alabama). These benefits will apply once workers have exhausted the 14 weeks of regular unemployment compensation benefits (or 26 weeks for those who filed initial claims prior to January 1, 2020). These benefits are applicable to weeks beginning March 29, 2020 through weeks ending December 26, 2020.

These benefits are 100% federally funded and employers will not be charged for any benefits paid under a CARES Act program.

Claims can be filed through ADOL’s website at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Direct deposit is the fastest method to receive benefits. Choosing the debit card method will add an additional 5-7 days as the card must be mailed.

Important note: None of the benefits described above, nor unemployment benefits of any kind, are available to employees who quit without good work-related cause, refuse to return to work, or refuse to receive full-time pay. Refusing to return to work could result in a disqualification for benefit eligibility. Attempts to collect unemployment benefits after quitting a job without good work-related cause is considered to be fraud. The CARES Act specifically provides for serious consequences for fraudulent cases including fines, confinement, and an inability to receive future unemployment benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid. Employers are encouraged to utilize the New Hire system to report those employees who fail to return to work.

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