Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Programs Ending: What does that mean for Texans?

Employment Lawyer Rasha Zeyadeh

Rasha Zeyadeh

In an unsurprising turn of events, the State of Texas is ending its participation in the federal pandemic unemployment benefit programs early. Jobless Texans will lose access to federal unemployment aid, including a $300 per week supplemental benefit effective June 26, 2021, three months prior to the federal expiration of the programs. More than a million Texans will be impacted when the State stops receiving unemployment benefits under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The final benefit week that the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will pay federal pandemic unemployment benefits under the ARPA is the benefit week ending June 26, 2021.

This decision will end the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for those who traditionally do not qualify for regular state benefits, such as self-employed and independent contractors, or exhausted all other benefits; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC) that extends regular state benefits; and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC), which provides an additional $300 weekly benefit payment. These programs were created with the CARES Act and were recently extended under the ARPA. However, the caveat is they require the governor’s approval. In other words, if the governor of your state rejects these benefits, you are unable to access them. To no surprise, following pressure from business groups, Governor Greg Abbott declared that Texas will no longer receive any federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits effective June 26, 2021. 

Governor Abbot’s decision comes amid a trend of Republican governors announcing plans to cut benefits in order to encourage people to return to work. According to Governor Abbot, “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state.” Similarly, according to the TWC, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the numbers of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits. 

What does this mean for Texans? If you are currently receiving PUA, PEUC, and FPUC federal benefits, you may continue to request payment for all weeks for which you are eligible through the week ending June 26, 2021. If you are receiving regular unemployment benefits, the additional $300 you receive per week will end on June 26, 2021. However, if you are still eligible for regular unemployment benefits, the TWC will continue to pay you regular benefits.

During these unique times, I understand the importance of prioritizing your health and the health of your loved ones. The added stress of navigating the legal system can be overwhelming. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility for unemployment benefits, please contact me for a consultation. If you have applied for unemployment benefits and would like to appeal the TWC’s decision regarding your eligibility for benefits, please contact us! I would be happy to represent you in your appeal. Please remember that time is of the essence. You must file your appeal within 14 days after the date the Determination Notice was mailed to you. 

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