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How Much Money Can I get from Unemployment?

For both UI and PUA, the amount of money get depends on how much you earned.  To get a higher benefit amount, you should submit a copy of your most recent tax return.  DWS will use your tax return to determine your “weekly benefit amount” (or “WBA”).

Under either unemployment program (both UI and PUA), you are eligible for an additional $300 per week currently of “FPUC” (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) through June 26, 2021.  This amount has changed repeatedly through the pandemic, and it is set to expire in Arkansas on June 26, 2021.  Until then, your payments should be $300 + your WBA.

Certain self-employed workers may be eligible for an additional $100 per week on top of this under the Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation fund (or “MEUC”).  

How Long Can I Get Unemployment?

Traditional unemployment (UI) runs out after 16 weeks.

DWS sometimes requires you to apply under a different program (known as PEUC) to get those extra weeks, depending on your circumstances.  For more information on how many weeks you should be eligible for based on you circumstances, you can look at this chart created by DWS

Important Note: You can only get unemployment as long as you meet all the requirements.  If something changes for you, like you get a new job for a period of time, the reason COVID prevented you from working changes, or you get an offer for employment and refuse it, you may no longer be eligible for unemployment.  If you continue to get benefits after something changes, you may receive notice that you were “overpaid” benefits, and DWS might try to get that money back.

DWS says I’ve run out of traditional unemployment (UI) weeks, but I’m still unemployed. Can I get an extension?

If you are still eligible for unemployment, you should be able to get your unemployment extended under a program called “PEUC” (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation), which is different from both PUA and PUC (described elsewhere in this guide.  PEUC funds are meant to be an extension of what you received under the UI program.  With PEUC, the maximum number of weeks increases to 53 weeks.

If you then run out of PEUC weeks, you can apply for PUA.  This is confusing, because some people are eligible for PUA immediately, but others are only eligible once their UI and PEUC benefits have run out.  But, if you were on UI and PEUC, you lost your job for a COVID-19 related reason, and you have used up the 53 week maximum under PEUC, then you should be eligible for an additional 10 weeks (totaling 63 weeks) under PUA.

DWS created a chart here that breaks down the different programs and how to get your unemployment extended depending on your specific circumstances.

What happens to my benefits after the Pandemic Related Extensions end?

At the moment, it appears that DWS will be ending access to all pandemic-related unemployment programs in Arkansas.  This means the end to the additional $300 payments (known as FPUC) for everyone on unemployment after that date.  This means the end to all PUA benefits for weeks going forward, as well.  This also means the end to extensions to the traditional unemployment program through PEUC.  

The result: People who are on traditional unemployment (UI) and are not under some pandemic-related extension (PEUC or PUA) should continue to receive unemployment benefits beyond June 26th as long as they have not used up their weeks by that time, which is normally capped at 16 weeks.  But they will not get the $300 per week additional payments for weeks after June 26th.  As we currently understand it, everyone else’s benefits will end completely.

Important Note: However, there will likely be many people who will be eligible for backpay after June 26th because they are still waiting for decisions on their applications, their payments were frozen while they are stuck “in review”, or they were denied benefits and had their benefits frozen while they are appealing.  If:

  1. You are eligible for unemployment benefits for weeks up to June 26th under any unemployment program;

  2. You have been filing your weekly benefit claims as needed; AND

  3. You have not yet received those benefits by June 26th,

Then you should still be eligible to get backpay for those weeks. 

This means that, if this applies to you, it is extremely important that you continue to follow up on appeal deadlines and file your weekly benefits so that you can eventually get backpay, even through this difficult and long process.