KDOL shares information and answers to questions about the Continued Assistance Act

Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Labor released information Monday on Frequently Asked Questions for the week of Feb. 15 – Feb. 19 regarding the Continued Assistance Act. On Friday, KDOL announced that the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, an unemployment extension provision contained in H.R. 133, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 will be implemented and begin paying out no later than February 19, 2021.

The extension, signed into law on December 27, 2020, allows claimants receiving PEUC to claim an
additional 11 weeks of benefit payments, adjusting the total number of weeks available under the
program from 13 weeks to 24 weeks.

KDOL infographic on PEUC CAA expansion
  • For viewing the complete list of the frequently asked questions, click here.
  • For information in Spanish, click here.

A few of the more common Frequently Asked Questions have been provided below:

Why are not all the programs paying out at this time?
Kansas is on target to complete the build out of the major programs under the Continued Assistance Act by the end of February. On Jan. 22, 2021, the agency announced it began paying out $300 FPUC. The agency began paying PUA on Feb. 8, 2021. On Feb. 12, 2021, KDOL announced that PEUC will be implemented and begin paying out the week ending Feb. 19, 2021.We understand that claimants are frustrated and we are working as fast as possible to implement the requirements for the programs with our technology. KDOL is in regular discussions with our counterparts from other states who are working with similar legacy systems. To date, our timelines align with these peer states for CAA implementation. We look forward to getting these program extensions in place so that we can get claimants their benefits. Claimants can better understand the unemployment programs pathway by clicking here. For more questions and answers on unemployment insurance programs, please visit the KDOL UI FAQ page by clicking here.

We understand that there is a Return to Work provision in the Continued Assistance Act.
Yes. The Continued Assistance Act mandates additional notification requirements for those employees who refuse to return to work. It also allows employers to report any employees who refuse to return to work.

Is there still a backlog from 2020?
Yes. In terms of legitimate PUA claims, as of 02/11/21, 16,110 claims are in the determination process,
as it stands at this moment. Over 12,789 claims are in verification/upload process for more than 21 days (which is when the claim is considered backlogged), which is down from the originally estimated backlog of 25,000 at the end of November. These numbers are stable, though they can fluctuate slightly; week to week as new claimants come into the system. KDOL is also working to identify and notify claimants that have partial or incomplete documentation so that their eligibility may be evaluated. We believe that in the very near future our team will have addressed the large majority of claims in the backlog that have submitted completed documentation. It is important to remember that if a claimant has been waiting in this backlog, it is because there was something within the claim that required additional information or scrutiny. Some of the issues are simple, others more complicated. We expect valid claims to be processed and paid out once claimants
complete the missing paperwork. Of course, not everyone will be found to be eligible for the PUA
program. KDOL cannot process a backlogged claim if a person has missing paperwork.

Are people receiving PUA payments at this time?
Yes. As of the week ending 02/06/21, initial and continued claims for PUA totaled 44,120. On 02/08/21,
we announced that the extension of the program for the Continued Assistance Act is now available. In this extension, there is an increase in the maximum amount of benefits available under the PUA program from 39 weeks to 50 weeks. To file for the additional weeks, claimants should log into their
unemployment benefits claim portal. As a reminder, PUA is an entirely new unemployment system, and the determination build out enables us to now work with claimants who never before had been part of the KDOL UI ecosystem. Examples of these claimants include gig workers, independent contractors or church employees.

What are the terms for the new PUA extension?
The Continued Assistance Act provides an additional 11 weeks of PUA unemployment benefits for
claimants, which begins on or after 01/02/21. If a claimant exhausted their PUA benefits prior to
01/02/21, they are only eligible for weeks starting after that time. Any exhausted benefit weeks that
occurred prior to that date are not eligible. Of course, claimants must still meet all existing requirements of the PUA program to be eligible for the 11-week extension.

When will KDOL begin paying out PEUC from the Continued Assistance Act?
On 02/12/21, KDOL announced that PEUC will be implemented and begin paying out the week ending
Feb. 19, 2021. The Continued Assistance Act extends PEUC-eligible weekly benefits from 13 to 24 weeks. The program is set to expire on 03/13/21. As of the week ending 02/06/21, initial and continued claims for PEUC total 508. This includes continued claims that existed when the program expired on 12/26/20. There are also individuals that have exhausted their regular UI benefits between 12/26/20 and 02/15/21, that are eligible for PEUC.

Is KDOL paying out FPUC at this time?

Yes. On 01/22/21, KDOL announced that the FPUC program began paying out to claimants. Claimants who meet the eligibility requirements will receive the $300 benefit without having to take any additional action. Of course, claimants need to continue filing their weekly claims for the underlying unemployment benefit they are currently receiving. The original FPUC program provided eligible claimants with an additional $600 weekly benefit under the CARES Act, which ended on 07/31/20. The Continued Assistance Act update is paying $300 weekly. Claimants will receive the $300 for benefit weeks starting on 01/02/21. FPUC payments are not eligible for any weeks from 07/31/20 – the weeks ending on or before 12/26/20. This benefit supplement is eligible for the unemployment weeks of 12/26/20 – 03/13/21.

In January, KDOL stated it was applying for the MEUC program. Where does the agency stand in terms of implementing the program?
On 01/05/21, KDOL announced it applied to administer the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. This program is for claimants filing for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) who also have earned more than $5,000 in self-employment income in the most recent taxable year prior to the individual’s application for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits. Eligible claimants will receive an additional $100 weekly benefit on top of their weekly benefit amount and the $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit. MEUC is optional for states and Kansas chose to enroll to bring this benefit to eligible Kansans impacted by the COVID-19
pandemic. This program will begin paying out sometime in the spring of 2021 and, similar to other states, we plan to make lump-sum payments to eligible claimants. The program will be handled similar to the Lost Wages Assistance Program. More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Where does this program stand in Kansas at this time?
On 11/23/20, we announced the end to the EB program. The ending of the program is a decision made by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, not KDOL. The decision on whether a state “triggers on” to EB, or “triggers off” of EB, is based on a state’s unemployment rate. If a claimant has filed a claim in 2020 prior to the ending of the EB program, and has not yet been paid, and her or his claim is ruled valid, the person will be paid the dollars owed, even after the program ended on 12/12/20.

Is LWA still active? What is its status?
No, LWA is no longer active. On 12/22/20, we put out a press release announcing that application period for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Lost Wages Assistance Program (LWA) expired on 12/27/20. However, we do have some numbers we can share from our last week of reporting the program, which was 02/01/21. As of 02/01/21, 75,305 people have received at least one LWA payment. Total amount paid to date is $127,493,761. The program was only available to those claimants who were entitled to a minimum of $100 in unemployment benefits from the weeks ending Aug. 1 to Sept. 5, 2020. It was not available to all claimants.

Last year, the regular UI backlog was at about 25,000. Where does it stand today?
As of 01/27/21, we have eliminated the backlog. If there are no issues with the unemployment claim, the average turnaround time for paying out on a regular UI claim is approximately six days. If a claim is disputed and needs to be adjudicated, it could take up to a month. These timelines are set in statue.

KDOL has claimed that new software system has been a success. What are the updated metrics?
As of 02/15/21 total claimants attempting authentication: Approximately 121,901. Claimants who were proofed/approved: 66,968. Claimants who have failed their ID proofing and would need to do it again/get help: 24,561. Claimants who experienced an error of some sort: 3,954. In terms of BOTS and fraudulent login attempts we have stopped, approximately 4,450,000.


We hear from claimants constantly that they cannot log on and cannot get help. What are the
issues?

We want to reiterate that the majority of people registering are getting through and registering
successfully. We have seen some user setting issues with Google Chrome. We suggest trying with Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer (not Edge). We also believe there are issues with two-factor authentication. Reminder, everyone will have to establish new login credentials. No exceptions. If they are having issues, we have CSRs on staff ready to help them when they call in to the contact center. Also, important to know that total claimants include users who we are waiting on actions to complete the registration process. Two examples include that they may have abandoned their registration, or have stopped the process for some reason. There are other actions that will stop the registration process for a user. These are spelled out clearly in the How to Guide we have posted online. Users can access that guide here.

Exactly what is KDOL’s new security software solution to stop fraud?
On 01/27/21, we announced our partnership with LexisNexis and our two-factor authentications solution to combat fraud. This is a new security system with identity verification software for unemployment insurance accounts and claims. The deployment of the new security system is a major tool to combat identity theft. This system upgrade identifies and stops the flood of fraudulent claims Kansas and states across the country have been fighting against, so the team at the Department of Labor will have more time to help unemployed Kansans. KDOL is seeing a decline, and we hope eventually an outright elimination, of fraudulent benefit notices that individuals and businesses have been receiving from KDOL. The system also provides two-factor authentication so that claimants can more securely log in and access their account.

For more information on the Kansas Department of Labor or the Continued Assistance Act, click here or here. For information in Spanish, click here.


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