MS among first states to pay claimants ‘Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation’

Information courtesy of MDES

For many claimants in Mississippi and the administering agency, Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES): it is a day of celebration!  Today Mississippians eligible under the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program will begin seeing the $600 stimulus funding deposited on either their debit cards or into their bank accounts, announced today by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, April 10, 2020.

This additional $600 per week stimulus is one of three expanded funding programs from the U.S. Department of Labor (US-DOL) that will distribute federal unemployment aid to Mississippians under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act intended to boost jobless benefits for residents in the state and around the country. All fifty state governments are working diligently to put these programs in place. Congress and President Trump enacted these emergency programs to assist those left unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure Mississippi was eligible to receive the CARES Act funds, Governor Tate Reeves signed an agreement with the US-DOL on March 28, 2020.  Signing this agreement, paved the way for Mississippi to accept this federal funding for unemployed workers as soon as these programs are implemented.

Yesterday, April 9, 2020, the Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, held a press conference announcing the release of this funding. MDES Executive Director, Jackie Turner and Reemployment Assistance director, Timothy Rush were the sole featured guests of Governor Reeves’ hour-long press conference. This presented a platform allowing MDES to explain the upcoming programs in the CARES Act, answer media questions, and voice claimant concerns from contact center wait times to CARES Act questions. This interview is available on the MDES website.

Having guidelines for these programs, MDES continues to actively work on various processes in preparation to effectively distribute unemployment funds through the Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. An additional call center is being generated to increase capacity and meet the demand of claims that continue to increase as more businesses close or layoff employees.

Timothy Rush, Director of Reemployment Assistance for the agency stated, “Below is a short summary of each new federal benefit payment program MDES is responsible for administering within the CARES Act”. These programs are as follows:

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or FPUC, provides $600 per week to any individual eligible for any of the Unemployment Compensation programs. This benefit begins March 29, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA, is the program that will provide unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed or contract employees.

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, or PEUC, allows for a potential additional 13 weeks of benefits added to the end of regular unemployment benefits. This means claimants may collect unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than under normal circumstances.

Rush further stated, “it is important to note that all of these programs are retroactive. Even if it takes numerous weeks to put them in place; the benefits will cover those who were unemployed at least back to March 29th, and one program reaches back to late January,” said Rush.

Jackie Turner, Executive Director for MDES said, “These programs are on their way, and we’re working as fast as we can to get them to the people of Mississippi. They aim to provide temporary relief to workers affected by the Coronavirus by paying more benefits for longer periods of time than provided under regular unemployment compensation law,” said Turner.  She further stated, “We are working quickly to make this aid accessible to the people of Mississippi.  MDES is currently anticipating further instruction from the US-DOL. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure these funds are administered correctly and we hope to provide these benefits as soon as possible,” said Turner.

A list of this information and COVID-19 updates mentioned in this release can be found on the MDES website.  To file a claim; online filing is advised, if you must call, the number is 1-888-844-3577 or contact your local WIN Job Center by phone or email only. All information can be found at

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