That Expiring $600 Weekly Unemployment Check? You Can Collect it Retroactively

This illustration shows a line at the unemployment office.
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The $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits is set to expire July 31, but you may be able to collect those funds retroactively.

The Department of Labor confirmed that the $600-per-week boost, known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC, is payable for all weeks between March 28 and July 31. As long as you can certify that you were out of work during that period, you’re eligible for payments for those weeks.

“Individuals that qualify for the FPUC $600 payment for weeks they are eligible… can be paid, even if not approved prior to the [July 31] deadline,” the Labor Department wrote in an email to The Penny Hoarder.

Translation: If you’re approved for unemployment benefits after July 31, you can collect back pay, which includes the $600 weekly boost for each eligible week between March 28 and July 31. The FPUC time frame includes 17 payment periods for an estimated $10,200 in federal benefits.

Are you an independent contractor or freelancer who’s out of work? Here’s everything you need to know about applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Back pay is especially relevant if you receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. While the entire unemployment system has been plagued by delays, the rollout of PUA was especially troubled. States waited for weeks for guidance from the Department of Labor before creating a method of accepting PUA applications.

After receiving guidance from the DOL, most states required PUA applicants to first file for their states’ regular Unemployment Insurance programs, which were receiving tens of millions of new claims.

How Do Retroactive $600 Unemployment Payments Work?

The DOL provided some high-level guidance for eligible unemployment recipients.

“In order to qualify for retroactive payments of either regular UI plus $600 or PUA plus $600, claimants are required to certify their eligibility for each week claimed. States have processes to enable that,” the DOL told The Penny Hoarder.

For example, if you have been out of work for a while but were only approved for unemployment benefits this week, don’t claim only this week and the following weeks. Go back and make a weekly claim for each week that you can certify that your employment was affected by COVID-19.

Retroactive FPUC payments were not explicitly mentioned in the $2 trillion CARES Act, the recent law that dramatically expanded the unemployment system. The DOL mentioned retroactive payments in an April guidance letter on implementing the newly expanded benefits. The letter was sent to every state unemployment office.

“As states begin providing this payment, eligible individuals will receive retroactive payments back to their date of eligibility or the signing of the state agreement, whichever came later,” the DOL’s letter states.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.