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ADOL set to process all CARES Act program claims

On March 27, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included a number of provisions aimed at providing relief to workers, families and businesses – within the coming weeks, the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) will be able to process claims under each of the legislation’s provisions.

Among the key provisions in the bill was the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides unemployment benefits to workers generally ineligible to receive such benefits, including contract employees and the self-employed.

The PUA benefit is retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020, and ADOL began processing such claims Monday.

Beyond contract workers and the self-employed, PUA benefits may also be available to church workers, gig economy workers, nonprofit and governmental workers, workers who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits, people lacking sufficient work history and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular or extended benefits under state or federal law or otherwise extended benefits.

Another key component of the CARES Act was the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which tacks an additional $600 a week onto unemployment benefits, claims for which ADOL began processing last week.

In multiple press conferences and statements last week, ADOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington noted that the department had paid out around $40 million to roughly 60,000 claimants under the FPUC program in one day last week.

The CARES Act also authorized the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which authorizes an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits added to the end of the regular benefit period, meaning that claimants will be eligible to receive benefits for a longer period of time.

The department will begin processing such claims Monday, April 20.

Workers in Alabama that became unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration starting Jan. 20 may be eligible for either or both of the two programs – the FPUC program was triggered when U.S. President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act into law and the PEUC program was triggered two days later was Trump designated Alabama a disaster area.

Claimants that filed for assistance under the PUA program may have received notice stating that they are ineligible for the benefits, but those claimants may still be eligible – an additional document will shortly be mailed out to all PUA claimants that should be filled out and submitted as quickly as possible.