Delaware is among states with a high enough unemployment rate to qualify for extended benefits.
The “High Extended Benefits” program was written into the federal CARES Act. It kicks in when states average more than eight percent unemployment over a three-month period.
The program went into effect in Delaware earlier this week. Claimants now get an added seven weeks of benefits including those who are on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
“If an individual collected 26 weeks of regular unemployment and then moved to the PUA program, they’re entitled to 39 total weeks,” said Division of Unemployment Director Darryl Scott. “With the seven additional weeks that number goes to 46.”
Delaware’s three-month averaged unemployment rate as of last month is at 10.6 percent—though it has been trending downward since it peaked at 14.5 percent in June. The state’s single monthly rate reached a height of 15.8 percent in May.
The extended benefits program remains in place until the three-month average state unemployment falls below 8 percent.
Scott says the federal government is footing the bill for now, but if the rate remains high the program will dig into the state budget.
“The 100 percent payment of these benefits does expire at the end of the year, and so if we remain in a high unemployment period [sic] after Dec. 31, then the state will pick up and be responsible for 50 percent of those benefit payments,” said Scott.
When the extended benefits program ends, claimants who have received 13 weeks of benefits will receive an added two weeks before benefits end.