Per the federal requirements issued as part of the Continued Assistance Act of 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is requiring individuals who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits on or after December 27, 2020, to provide proof of employment/self-employment or a valid offer to begin employment and proof of wages by August 14, 2021. While PUA claimants were previously only required to provide proof of wages documentation, this new federal requirement to provide proof of employment documentation is a fraud prevention measure.
“This is a requirement we believe should have been included in the original CARES Act legislation,” said Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler. “Instead, Congress waited nine months into the pandemic to require the additional documentation confusing many claimants who believed they had already fulfilled the obligation. However, in an effort to authenticate these federal payments, we are asking that PUA claimants make sure these documents have been uploaded to avoid an overpayment situation.”
Claimants must provide proof that they were employed/self-employed and earned wages at some point between the start of the previous completed tax year (January 2019) through the date of their PUA application to show attachment to the labor market at the time the COVID-19 pandemic started or that the claimant had an offer to begin employment or start self-employment but could not do so as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If a claimant fails to respond timely and/or provide sufficient documentation, eligibility will be reconsidered. The claimant will be denied and required to repay all PUA benefits received during the denial period. In addition, he/she may face possible criminal prosecution if it is determined the claimant misrepresented facts to receive PUA benefits for which he/she was not entitled.
PUA claimants are required to complete this federal requirement even if he/she returned to work, were no longer eligible for PUA benefits, were not receiving PUA benefits when the PUA program ended or are no longer receiving PUA benefits because the program ended. If a claimant has already uploaded proof of their employment and wages to their My UI portal, he/she is not required to upload these documents again.
Detailed instructions for submitting documentation and more information on the types of documentation that will be accepted can be found on the GDOL website at https://dol.georgia.gov/blog-post/2021-07-27/pua-proof-submittal.
The GDOL has paid more than $22.9 billion in state and federal benefits in the past seventy-one weeks. Last week, the GDOL issued $24 million in benefits, which included regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
Since week ending March 21, 2020, 4,998,040 regular UI initial claims have been processed, more than the ten years prior to the pandemic combined (4.8 million). Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 11,985, down 620 over the week and the lowest weekly total since March 21, 2020. Initial claims are defined as any notice of unemployment filed to request a determination of entitlement to or eligibility of unemployment insurance compensation OR to begin a second or subsequent period of eligibility within a benefit year. Initial claims numbers are not a direct correlation to layoffs.
Resources for reemployment assistance along with information on filing an unemployment claim and details on how employers can file partial claims can be found on the agency’s webpage at https://dol.georgia.gov. Job listings and job search assistance can be found on https://employgeorgia.com.