LINCOLN – The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) announced today that the agency is issuing payments for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is a federal CARES Act program for people who are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 and not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers and independent contractors. After building the system necessary to accommodate this new benefit, NDOL is now able to fully process unemployment applications under PUA guidelines set by the United States Department of Labor. Nebraska has issued PUA payments to more than 11,000 individuals so far this week, with payments totaling nearly $7 million including back payments. Total benefits paid this week are nearly $64 million, including PUA, regular state benefits and the $600 weekly payment available under the federal CARES Act.
For people who have been laid off or had their hours reduced due to COVID-19, the online benefits system will determine eligibility for state unemployment or PUA through a single application. Workers who have not already applied can do so by filing an unemployment claim at NEworks.nebraska.gov.
“Significant IT enhancements were needed to launch PUA,” said Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin. “In addition to paying PUA applicants who filed a claim before these upgrades were completed, we are now able to take new applications for PUA through a more streamlined application that will allow us to process these claims more efficiently.”
To help NDOL process claims more quickly and ensure that they are receiving all benefits they are eligible for, claimants should upload their most recent tax return when applying. Individuals who have already applied and been denied for state unemployment benefits can upload documents by logging into their NEworks account and navigating to the My Individual Workspace tab and selecting My Resources, then My Background.
In order to process the claims in the most expedient manner possible, all claimants will first receive the minimum weekly PUA benefit of $174 and the additional $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit. Individuals eligible for more than the minimum will see their payments adjusted up if proper documentation is provided. Payments are retroactive to the Sunday prior to the claimant’s last day of work. The FPUC benefit is retroactive as early as the week ending April 4.
Like other states, NDOL utilized the minimum payment method in order to distribute benefits as quickly as possible, and then take the necessary time needed to calculate each claimant’s weekly benefit amount (WBA). Once the Department finalizes a WBA, the claimant will receive the difference between the minimum and their actual benefit in a later payment.
PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons, as defined in the CARES Act. PUA benefits cannot be paid for weeks of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020. The additional $600 FPUC payments apply through July 25.
For more information, visit dol.nebraska.gov.