During the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in Missouri were eligible for extended benefits through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the American Plan Rescue Act. While the American Plan Rescue Act's programs run until September 6, 2021, 11 states, including Missouri, may end this federal funding entitlement early. This means that there will no longer be extended benefits available in Missouri.
Federal Funding for Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits
In March 2020, thousands of Missourians lost work overnight as states went into lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19. With state agencies across the country stretched to their limit in funding due to a large number of UI claims, the federal government stepped in to increase regular unemployment benefits to unemployed workers. Congress, during the Trump administration, created funding (the CARES Act) meant to reach more workers, including those not normally covered by UI.
For example, gig workers and the self-employed received benefits from the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Missourians who worked at salaried or hourly jobs received 13 additional weeks of UI benefits through the federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. The CARES Act ended on March 13, 2021, but its programs remain active through the American Plan Rescue Act, put in place by Congress and the Biden administration. Under the Rescue Plan Act, claimants get a weekly benefit amount of $300 (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation or FPUC) added to their UI, PUA, and PEUC benefits until September 6, 2021.
Missouri Ends Pandemic Benefits Program
While the American Plan Rescue Act is set to end in September, 2021, Missouri is one of several states that want to discontinue receiving these federal funds. State officials believe that workers receiving this money are less likely to go back to available jobs and so want to end this funding as early as June 12, 2021. At that time, claimants will lose the additional $300 they currently receive weekly, as well as extensions through these programs:
- PUA and PEUC.
- Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) for those who are self-employed and salaried at the same time.
- Short-Time Compensation (STC), a work-sharing program that helps employers avoid layoffs.
- Emergency Unemployment Relief for Government Entities and Nonprofit Organizations.
Duration and Amount of Standard UI Benefits
After June 12, 2021, Missourians who have lost work will be eligible for standard UI without any of the increases from federal programs. This means they can expect to receive between $133 to $320 in regular state benefits each week for 20 weeks from the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' (DOLIR) Division of Employment Security (DES). Their eligibility rests on specific requirements:
- Termination occurring through no fault of the worker's own, usually due to layoffs, a reduction in force or lack of work.
- Earning enough money in the base period before filing the claim.
- Showing continued availability to work while collecting benefits.
- Actively searching for work while collecting benefits.
Provided claimants meet the state's eligibility requirements, they will face a waiting period of one week before their regular UI payments begin. It can take a maximum of 22 days for unemployed workers to receive their first installment.
Filing the First Claim for Unemployment Benefits
Newly unemployed workers should file their initial claim with the DES as soon as they lose their job via UInteract, the agency's online claim filing system, which is available 24 hours a day. They must have certain information ready to input:
- Social Security number.
- Amount of weekly gross wages, including vacation, holiday or WARN pay.
- Full name, address and employment dates for employers from the past 18 months.
- Optional banking information to receive benefits through direct deposit.
Claimants can also file by phone with the DES by calling one of the Regional Claims Centers (RCC) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday:
- Jefferson City: 573-751-9040
- Kansas City: 816-889-3101
- St. Louis: 314-340-4950
- Springfield: 417-895-6851
- Outside Local Calling Area: 800-320-2519
- UInteract: Missouri's Online Employment System
- KSHB: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson Directs State to End Participation in Pandemic-related Federal Unemployment Programs
- Missouri Division of Employment Security: Information for Workers
- Nolo: Collecting Unemployment Benefits in Missouri
- U.S. Dept of the Treasury: Assistance for American Families and Workers
- Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations: Unemployed Workers Knowledge Base
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.