Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

What Is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation?

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, authorized by the CARES Act and renewed by subsequent legislation and a presidential order, initially provided $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits to unemployed workers in states that opted into the program.

In August 2020, the additional payment was lowered to $300, the amount continued by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 through Sept. 6, 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program provided $300 per week in extra pandemic-related unemployment benefits to unemployed and underemployed workers through state unemployment agencies.
  • After several extensions and expirations, FPUC funding was renewed through Sept. 6, 2021, by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.
  • Some state governors discontinued participation based on a belief that the extended and expanded benefits discourage people from returning to work.
  • Although extra FPUC payments stopped, those eligible continued to receive their regular unemployment insurance payments.
  • As of September 6, 2021, FPUC benefits are no longer being sent out.


How Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Works

To receive the FPUC extra $300 per week benefit, you had to file a claim for unemployment benefits, but you didn't need to sign up expressly. The payments were automatic if you qualified for regular unemployment insurance (UI) payments. When FPUC payments ended on Sept. 6, 2021, those eligible for regular unemployment compensation from their state continued to receive it.

At least 26 states stopped making FPUC payments before the September deadline. One of the reasons governors cited was that the unemployment rate was low. For example, on Aug. 20, 2021, the national unemployment rate was 5.2%, down 0.2% over the month, and 3.2 points lower than in August 2020.

History of FPUC Authorization and Funding

As noted, additional unemployment benefits of $600 per week were originally authorized by the CARES Act through July 31, 2021. This was followed by the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, authorized by an Aug. 8, 2020, presidential memo and subsequent Department of Labor (DOL) guidance.

LWA funds, which were expected to last from Aug. 1, 2020, to Dec. 27, 2020, were depleted by Sept. 5, 2020. The signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 into law on Dec. 27, 2020, restarted the FPUC program and authorized $300 FPUC payments beginning after Dec. 26, 2020, and ending on or before March 14, 2021.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, which became law March 11, 2021, extended FPUC payments through Sept. 6, 2021. ARPA also provided a waiver of federal income taxes on the first $10, 200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, regular unemployment benefits replace about 38% of a worker's wages, on average.

History of FPUC

In states where FPUC funds were available, payment was generally automatic and did not require a special application. In most states, to get the now defunct-extra $300 weekly bonus. You had to be eligible for—and receiving—unemployment benefits, including unemployment compensation (UC, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation PEUC, extended benefits EB, or pandemic unemployment assistance PUA).

You had to be able and willing to return to work. You had to have become unemployed or had hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond stated eligibility standards, it was up to the state or territory to decide what, if anything, you needed to do to receive the money.

In states where FPUC funds were available, payment was generally automatic and did not require a special application. In most states, to get the now defunct-extra $300 weekly bonus:

  • You had to be eligible for—and receiving—unemployment benefits, including unemployment compensation (UC, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation PEUC, extended benefits EB, or pandemic unemployment assistance PUA).
  • You had to be able and willing to return to work.
  • You had to have become unemployed or had hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond stated eligibility standards, it was up to the state or territory to decide what, if anything, you needed to do to receive the money.

Special Considerations

For you to receive FPUC funds, your state or territory (also includes Washington D.C.) had to sign up. According to the DOL, as of April 29, 2020, all 50 states and the District of Columbia were signed up and paying FPUC benefits.

As of August 20, 2021, according to the Congressional Research Service, 26 states stopped providing temporary federal unemployment benefits, including FPUC program funds. These state officials stated that extra and extended unemployment benefits discouraged unemployed workers from returning to the workforce.

As of Sept. 24, 2021, some states are reinstating requirements that out-of-work benefits recipients prove they are looking for work, a stipulation most states dropped after the pandemic hit in 2020. Some states and businesses are now offering sign-up bonuses to encourage workers to apply for available jobs.

Interestingly, a working research paper by economics Professor Arindrajit Dube of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, suggests that low unemployment insurance benefits do not increase employment levels more than happens in states with high levels of unemployment insurance benefits.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Congressional Research Service. "Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Division N, Title II, Subtitle A, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020)," Page 1. Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  2. U.S. Congress. "H.R.1319 - American Rescue Plan Act of 2021." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  3. Congressional Research Service. "States Opting Out of COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance (UI) Agreements." Sept. 27, 2021.

  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "State Employment and Unemployment Summary." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  5. The White House Archive, Trump Administration. "Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  6. Congressional Research Service. "Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Division N, Title II, Subtitle A, the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020)," Pages 1-2. Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  7. U.S. Department of Labor. "UI Replacement Rates: U. S. Replacement Ratios, Average WBA, and Average Weekly Wage, January 2021 - March 2021," Click "Submit" to generate the report. Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  8. U.S. Department of Labor. "Unemployment Insurance Relief During COVID-19 Outbreak," Select "Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  9. U.S. Department of Labor. "U.S. Department of Labor Announces That All 50 States and The District of Columbia Are Paying Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefits." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  10. Society for Human Resource Management. "Amid Labor Shortages, Some States Opt Out of Enhanced Jobless Benefits." Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.

  11. National Bureau of Economic Research. "Aggregate Employment Effects of Unemployment Benefits During Deep Downturns: Evidence From the Expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation," Page 2. Accessed Sept. 27, 2021.