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Pandemic Programs

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented period of financial hardship and job loss for Oregonians, and unemployment insurance benefits played a key role in providing stability for Oregonians, as they have in other recessions. The Employment Department implemented several new federal programs and updated state requirements during the pandemic — the result of multiple federal and state legislative actions — and handled a 600% increase in paid claims and a 1,400% increase in benefits in 2020, compared with 2019. This equated to more than 580,000 people receiving benefits and nearly $7.5 billion in UI benefits paid in a single year (2020).

The programs and resources listed on this page are no longer active or accepting new claims, but some information may be useful to people who benefited from the programs during the pandemic.

A reflection of Broadway Bridge shimmers in the Willamette River as snow lines the banks in Portland.

American Rescue Plan (ARP)

The ARP was a federal benefit package that extended some Continued Assistance Act benefit programs from March 14, 2021, through Sept. 4, 2021. The ARP extended the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit programs through Sept. 4, 2021.

Continued Assistance Act (CAA)

The CAA was a federal benefits package passed in December 2020 that provided up to 11 additional weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, provided up to 11 additional weeks of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and required additional changes to COVID-related federal benefit programs. The CAA also introduced the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation benefit program for hybrid earners, or people who earned both W-2 wages and self-employment income.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act was a federal benefit package signed on March 27, 2020. It allowed more people to get unemployment benefits than ever before, especially people affected by COVID-19. This law created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

Federal Program Overpayment Waiver

The U.S. Department of Labor provides a waiver option for the overpayment of federal benefits for qualifying claimants. You may request a waiver if officials determine that you were not at fault for the overpayment and that paying it back would cause financial hardship. This waiver applies to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Lost Wages Assistance, and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation. You can request a federal waiver online. If you need help to complete this waiver, call 503-947-1995. You may request interpretation and translation assistance.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

Everyone getting any type of unemployment benefits got an extra $600 per week from March 29, 2020, through July 25, 2020, under the CARES Act. The Continued Assistance Act and American Rescue Plan continued the FPUC benefit at $300 per week from Dec. 27, 2020, through Sept. 4, 2021.

House Bill 3389

On July 27, 2021, then-Gov. Kate Brown signed into law House Bill 3389, which provided unemployment insurance payroll tax relief for employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan allowed eligible employers to defer one-third of their 2021 unemployment insurance tax liability until June 30, 2022, and avoid interest and penalties. This plan also provided forgiveness for some payroll taxes. Additionally, an employer’s unemployment insurance tax experience rating for 2022 through 2024 rolled back to the pre-pandemic rating. Eligible employers were automatically enrolled.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA)

LWA was a temporary emergency program that gave an additional $300 per week to people who were out of work due to COVID-19 and were receiving unemployment benefits. LWA benefits were available July 26, 2020, through Sept. 5, 2020.

Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

MEUC was a program created by the Continued Assistance Act. It expired on Sept. 4, 2021. It provided “hybrid workers” an additional $100 weekly benefit. A “hybrid worker” is someone who both receives a W-2 from an employer and earns self-employment income.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

PEUC was a benefit extension program for people who ran out of their regular unemployment insurance benefits. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act created the program. The American Rescue Plan allowed a person to receive a total of 53 weeks of PEUC benefits or to receive benefits until the week ending Sept. 4, 2021.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

PPP was a federal loan designed to encourage small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. Borrowers were eligible for PPP loan forgiveness.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA was a federal unemployment benefit program created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was for people who were self-employed, people who were contract workers, and other workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Applicants could get up to 79 weeks of PUA until Sept. 4, 2021. More details about benefits this program provided are in the PUA Benefits Calculator, PUA Self-Employment/Employment Interactive Tool and PUA Backdating Interactive Tool.

Exceptions for being considered unemployed

Generally, people are considered unemployed if they work fewer than 40 hours in a week and earn less than their weekly benefit amount (WBA). Laws in 2020 and 2021 temporarily removed the condition that people could not earn more than their WBA and stated that people were considered unemployed in any week they performed no services or had less than full-time work. These exceptions were in place from Sept. 6, 2020, through Jan. 1, 2022.

Waiver of the unemployment waiting week

The waiting week is the first week someone files a weekly claim and meets all eligibility requirements. Before people can start receiving benefits, Oregon law requires one waiting week per claim. In April 2020, then-Gov. Kate Brown waived the requirement for workers to serve the waiting week for the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency. All workers who filed an initial claim after the governor declared the state of emergency received payment for the waiting week. This did not add a week of benefits to the claim, but instead allowed workers to receive their first benefit payment a week sooner than when the waiting week is in place. Everyone who filed a new claim until Sept. 4, 2021, was paid for this first week.