As much as we all would’ve liked to leave COVID-19 in 2020, it has followed us into the new year.
But in addition to encouraging vaccine news, there’s also some good news for Georgians who currently rely on unemployment.
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has announced that there will be extended unemployment benefits for those who have been affected by COVID-19 layoffs. The Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 will be included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
For residents receiving benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, eligible payments will be sent out with no lapse in benefits.
According to the GDOL, the new $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will also be issued to those eligible receiving at least $1 in weekly regular state UI, PUA, PEUC or State Extended Benefits. This will begin with the first payable week ending Jan. 2, 2021.
For those who exhausted their benefits prior to Dec. 26, 2020, the GDOL is beginning the process of reviewing those claims and forming a distribution plan.
GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler said:
“Our teams will work through the holiday weekend to make sure we can issue payments next week for all claimants who are eligible for the extension with funds still available in their claim, including issuance of the new $300 FPUC supplemental payment. We are continuing to work with the USDOL on the specific operational guidelines to set up payments for all claimants eligible for the extensions, but some of these guidelines include complicated regulations that require extensive system programming.”
Since March 2020, the GDOL has paid over $16.7 billion in state and federal benefits. There have also been over 4 million unemployment claims processed in that timeframe, more than the past 9 years combined.
These benefits include the following:
- Regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Federal Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
- State Extended Benefits
Returning to work during the pandemic
Georgia has lifted its stay-at-home orders, which means that workers who still have jobs are allowed to return to work. If that’s your situation, remember to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines while on the job. Social distance when possible, wash your hands often and wear a mask whenever you’re able.
If you believe you’ve been exposed to the virus or you start showing symptoms, stay home. Quarantine for the recommended amount of time or until you receive a negative test twice within a period of 7 days.
Workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits
You may be wondering if you’re allowed to receive workers’ comp at the same time as Georgia unemployment benefits. The short answer is it depends.
As in many other states, Georgia’s unemployment law states that an injured worker cannot receive unemployment benefits while also receiving temporary total disability (benefits paid to employees who are totally out of work) or temporary partial disability (benefits paid to employees who are partially out of work).
However, many injured workers have to fight in order to obtain their workers’ compensation benefits. While waiting for their court date, the injured worker can apply for unemployment benefits. If the injured worker receives unemployment benefits, they will at least obtain some financial assistance while waiting to receive their workers’ compensation benefits.
We know these questions are hard to answer and the unemployment system can be complicated to navigate. If you’d like assistance through this process, contact our team at Gerber & Holder Law today. We’d be happy to walk with you through it and help protect your rights.