FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2020
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Delores Rose 573-751-1518
Missouri Announces Weekly Initial Unemployment/Coronavirus-Related Claims; $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Payments to Be Disbursed Next Week
Jefferson City, MO –– The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ (DOLIR’s) Division of Employment Security (DES) reported a total of 91,049 initial claims for the week ending April 4, 2020, the most recent week for which claims information is available, as compared to the previous week’s initial claims of 104,230 for the week ending March 28, 2020. More than 76,800 of the 91,049 initial claims were COVID-19 related, compared to the 89,303 COVID-19 related claims reported for the week ending March 28, 2020.
The DES will be issuing the $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments as early as next week. UInteract IT programming and testing are currently underway. The FPUC provides that those eligible for at least one dollar of unemployment compensation benefits during the week will receive an additional $600 per week as a federal supplement. All who are eligible for unemployment compensation will be eligible for the $600 supplement effective with the week beginning March 29. Payments will be made retroactively for claims filed on or after March 29. The last payable week for the $600 supplement will be the week ending July 25, 2020.
On Sunday, April 5th, Missouri received guidance from the USDOL about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program which provides benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment, including those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, the self-employed, and individuals lacking sufficient work history. Individuals eligible to receive PUA benefits will also receive the $600 weekly benefit under the FPUC. The PUA process is more complex, in part, because claimants must provide the DES specific documentation to support PUA claims, including proof of eligibility and earnings.
Self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others may file their claims online at uinteract.labor.mo.gov but will receive a notice at this time that they are not an insured worker because they are not covered under the regular unemployment insurance system. The DES system is in the process of being updated to reflect the recent change in federal law that does allow eligible self-employed individuals to receive certain benefits. Such individuals who file a claim online at this time will be required to provide additional information and documentation when programming is updated in Uinteract.
“If you have questions related to your claim and can’t find the answer on UInteract, in the materials we have sent you, or on our website, you can email the claims center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and your phone number. It may take us a few days to respond because of the overwhelming number of questions, but we will get back to you,” said DES Director, Chris Slinkard.
In response to employer concerns over employees quitting without cause to receive new program benefits, Slinkard stated, “Under Missouri unemployment law, most people who are currently employed and quit are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If an employer offers sick leave and/or other leave options to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, then a person who quits would not likely qualify for unemployment benefits.The new program guidance specifies that quitting a job without good cause to obtain unemployment benefits may be considered fraud. ”
The DOLIR has posted information and frequently asked questions about the federal legislation and coronavirus on their website. Before calling, please check the website at labor.mo.gov/coronavirus to see if your question is answered there. The priority on phones for DES continues to be assistance for those filing unemployment claims that do not have internet access.
The DES continues to urge people to file for unemployment benefits at uinteract.labor.mo.gov. The online application process takes on average about ten minutes. UInteract is available 24/7 and is mobile- friendly. Over 90% of the people who have applied through UInteract have been able to successfully start, complete, and file their claim for unemployment benefits, without assistance. Eligible workers are already receiving payments from these claims. Claimants should take extreme care to provide accurate information. Typos, wrong dates or other errors, will cause a delay in processing and payments.
For questions and answers related to the coronavirus and unemployment, as well as other effects on employment, visit labor.mo.gov/coronavirus frequently for updates.
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