Kentucky Unemployment Extension
Does Kentucky Offer Extended Benefits?
In unusual situations, such as the aftermath of a natural disaster, a pandemic, or a time when national and state unemployment rates are atypically high, unemployed workers have several options when it comes to getting assistance beyond traditional Kentucky unemployment benefits. Both the Kentucky state government and the U.S. federal government recognize that in periods of extended economic disruption, it’s not uncommon for unemployed workers to exhaust the financial assistance available through traditional unemployment benefits.
CARES Act Extended Benefits
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government made available to states funding for emergency extended benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was passed by Congress in March 2020. Its benefits were extended through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was passed by Congress in December 2021.
The following programs were included in the acts’ provisions and were able to help Kentucky residents who had exhausted traditional unemployment benefits. In many cases, these programs have encouraged residents to apply for Kentucky unemployment benefits.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was designed to provide up to 39 weeks of additional unemployment benefits for workers who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who otherwise would not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
The program covered the self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors, and business owners. Please note that claimants who were eligible for regular unemployment benefits were not eligible for PUA benefits, and those who are eligible had to file a claim in order to access these benefits. This program ended in September 2021.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) extended benefits program allowed for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to be made available for unemployed workers who had exhausted the full amount of their regular unemployment benefits and whose benefit year expired on or after July 1, 2019.
Claimants with a completely exhausted balance in their accounts prior to Dec. 26, 2020, were required to file a new claim in order to receive additional weeks of extended benefits payments. Claimants with remaining benefits in their accounts were able to start receiving extended benefits beginning in January of 2021 and were able to continue claiming their regular unemployment benefits up to that point. This program reached its conclusion in Kentucky in September 2021.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC)
The Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) stimulus program made possible an additional $600 per week of unemployment benefits for all unemployed workers who were already receiving regular unemployment compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PEUC. These extended benefits were made available to both full-time and part-time workers. This program ended for Kentuckians in September 2021.
Kentucky One-time Relief Payment Program
In addition to these federal programs, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear authorized the Unemployment One-Time Relief Payment Program, which was administered by the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance (OUI) and funded by Coronavirus Relief Fund resources. This program accounted for one-time payments that constituted $400 to unemployment claimants under any OUI program who qualified for extremely low weekly benefit amounts, which helped approximately 25,000 Kentuckians.
The program allocated a $1,000 one-time payment to benefits applicants who submitted a claim to any OUI program between March 4 and Oct. 31, 2020, with verified identities and no evidence of fraud, whose claims had not yet received a final determination and payment. This one-time payment provided valuable financial assistance for approximately 16,500 Kentuckians. All one-time payments were processed in January 2021.
Kentucky Disaster Unemployment Insurance
Kentucky disaster unemployment insurance is designed to provide both financial assistance and re-employment services to Kentuckians who have had their work interrupted by the effects of natural disasters. This includes any level of catastrophe that results in the Kentucky governor declaring a disaster situation. These benefits especially help those who otherwise would not be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits – farmers, those who otherwise are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, etc.
Under this program, applicants may file for disaster unemployment assistance within the county in which they work. Generally, in order to qualify, a claimant must have experienced at least one of the following conditions:
- One full week of unemployment following the catastrophic event
- Be unable to reach the claimant’s typical place of employment
- Have a job previously scheduled be canceled because of the natural disaster
- Need financial support because the previous head of household died as a result of the natural disaster
- Unable to work because of an injury suffered during the catastrophic event.
In many cases, the requirement to actively search for work is waived for claimants receiving disaster unemployment insurance.
Lost Wages Assistance
Lost wages assistance is a federal program largely funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s Disaster Relief Fund. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, LWA provided an additional $400 in weekly financial assistance to eligible applicants who already received benefits from state and federal unemployment programs.
To qualify for Lost Wages Assistance, claimants were required to be eligible for at least $100 per week in unemployment insurance benefits from the week of August 1, 2020, from a wide variety of programs that receive supplemental lost wages payments from their state, territory or the District of Columbia. Hint: our Kentucky unemployment calculator is a good resource for calculating those unemployment insurance benefits per week. Eligible programs included everything from traditional state unemployment benefits to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The last opportunity to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance was on Oct. 16, 2020. This federal program authorized all states, including Kentucky, to offer lost wages assistance for a full six weeks. Program funds were exhausted in September 2020.
Budget Control Act of 2011
The Budget Control Act of 2011 provided across-the-board budget reductions to many federal programs, including the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program. These reductions are generally known as “sequestration.” This means that payments of EUC for weeks that began on or after March 31, 2013, were reduced by 10.7 percent for each week of unemployment through September 2013. Claimants were sent a revised EUC monetary determination providing you with the new remaining entitlement and new weekly benefit amount for your EUC claim. You will be notified if there are subsequent changes affecting your EUC entitlement.
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012
President Obama signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 which includes the EUC extension. The legislation authorized up to 37 weeks of EUC benefits for individuals who have exhausted their regular benefits (which last up to 26 weeks). The new law did not increase or decrease the number of weeks available. If you had not received all of your EUC benefits before Dec. 29, 2012, then you could continue to claim EUC until you ran out. If you ran out of regular benefits after Dec. 29, 2012, and you still met eligibility requirements, you could have applied for EUC benefits. If you have already received all of the EUC benefits for which you were eligible, the new legislation does not grant you additional weeks of benefits.
Kentucky Unemployment Extensions
Kentucky offers several different options to help state residents when natural disasters strike or when unemployment levels are unusually high for any other reason.
In these situations, it’s a good idea to reach out to one of the Kentucky unemployment office locations to discuss the options that best fit your particular situation. Representatives from the Kentucky office of unemployment are always ready to answer your questions and help you apply for unemployment benefits, along with identifying options and resources to help you and your family through catastrophic events.