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American Workers, Families, and Employers Assistance Act

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TITLE I – FURTHER RELIEF FOR WORKERS AFFECTED BY CORONAVIRUS

Section 101 – Improvements to Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to better match lost wages

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act provides an additional payment of $600 per week to individuals receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through July of 2020. This provision would continue supplemental payments of $200 per week for weeks of unemployment through September. Starting in October, this payment would be replaced with a payment (up to $500) that, when combined with the state UI payment, would replace 70 percent of lost wages—either via a formula specified in the bill or by a state proposing an alternative method and receiving approval from the Secretary. States that are unable to provide a second payment tied to lost wages by October 5 could apply for a waiver from the Department of Labor to continue paying a fixed dollar amount for up to two months. Starting in October, the additional payment would count as income when determining eligibility for federal low-income programs in the same way as wages and regular state unemployment insurance payments do now. This provision also requires states, beginning 30 days after enactment, to notify recipients of unemployment insurance and employers about state law regarding return to work and suitable work requirements. Specifically, states are required to notify individuals of the state’s return to work requirements, the individual’s rights to refuse to return to work or to refuse suitable work, and how an individual can contest the denial of a claim as a result of these requirements. This provision would also require states to notify employers of this same information.

Section 102 – Supplemental emergency unemployment relief for governmental entities and nonprofit organizations

The CARES Act provides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies, and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits. This provision increases the percentage from 50 to 75 percent. Section 103 – Conforming eligibility for pandemic unemployment assistance to disaster unemployment assistance and accelerating appeal review 2 The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, modeled after the long-standing Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program, to provide support to those not traditionally eligible for state unemployment benefits. Under DUA, applicants can receive benefits immediately, but must provide documentation within 21 days of applying to substantiate prior employment or self-employment (or the planned commencement of employment or selfemployment). The Department of Labor has determined this DUA provision does not apply to the PUA program, and this provision requires states to follow the same procedures for verifying eligibility for both programs. This provision would also specify that only those who have lost their principal source of income are eligible for the program, following the same requirement currently in place for the disaster unemployment assistance program. This provision would allow states to handle appeals in the same way they handle appeals for state UI benefits, instead of requiring that these appeals be handled by the regional offices for the Department of Labor. Section 104 – Improvements to State unemployment insurance systems and strengthening program integrity This section provides $2 billion to assist states in upgrading their state unemployment insurance systems to be better prepared to handle a surge in claims, adjust wage replacement levels, adjust earnings disregards, be able to vary benefits over time, as well as automate a number of processes which are currently done manually in many states. This section also implements a number of provisions to improve the integrity of the program by improving use of the electronic systems states use to detect and prevent fraud and those employers use to communicate with the state unemployment agency, and provides the Department of Labor with additional authority to hold states accountable for their performance. Section 105 – TANF Coronavirus Emergency Fund This provision provides funding to states to support individuals with varied economic needs by reimbursing states for 80 percent of their increased costs of providing cash assistance and other short-term help through the TANF program, up to a cap of $2 billion.

Section 103 – Conforming eligibility for pandemic unemployment assistance to disaster unemployment assistance and accelerating appeal review

The CARES Act created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, modeled after the long-standing Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program, to provide support to those not traditionally eligible for state unemployment benefits. Under DUA, applicants can receive benefits immediately, but must provide documentation within 21 days of applying to substantiate prior employment or self-employment (or the planned commencement of employment or selfemployment). The Department of Labor has determined this DUA provision does not apply to the PUA program, and this provision requires states to follow the same procedures for verifying eligibility for both programs. This provision would also specify that only those who have lost their principal source of income are eligible for the program, following the same requirement currently in place for the disaster unemployment assistance program. This provision would allow states to handle appeals in the same way they handle appeals for state UI benefits, instead of requiring that these appeals be handled by the regional offices for the Department of Labor. Section 104 – Improvements to State unemployment insurance systems and strengthening program integrity This section provides $2 billion to assist states in upgrading their state unemployment insurance systems to be better prepared to handle a surge in claims, adjust wage replacement levels, adjust earnings disregards, be able to vary benefits over time, as well as automate a number of processes which are currently done manually in many states. This section also implements a number of provisions to improve the integrity of the program by improving use of the electronic systems states use to detect and prevent fraud and those employers use to communicate with the state unemployment agency, and provides the Department of Labor with additional authority to hold states accountable for their performance. Section 105 – TANF Coronavirus Emergency Fund This provision provides funding to states to support individuals with varied economic needs by reimbursing states for 80 percent of their increased costs of providing cash assistance and other short-term help through the TANF program, up to a cap of $2 billion.

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