How to retroactively collect unemployment checks


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of June 2020, the unemployment rate was 11.1%.  While the number of unemployed Americans actually dropped by 3.2 million to a total of 17.8 million, a significant number of people still don’t have a steady income. Fortunately, unemployment insurance is available to those who qualify.

Thanks to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), individuals who are eligible to collect unemployment benefits also receive an additional $600 per week. This additional benefit started after the date that your state entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor and continues until July 31.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is even available to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation otherwise.  This program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits that are available retroactively for any weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020.

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Filing for Retroactive Unemployment Compensation

If you have never filed for unemployment, you might not realize that you must file a claim every week that you are not working to continue receiving payments. In fact, in most states you are required to submit a weekly claim even when waiting to find out if you qualify, have earned some wages or worked some hours (but less than you would earn working full time), or are currently appealing a denial of benefits.

Many people don’t realize this until the payments stop coming. Fortunately, if you missed filing a claim for one or more weeks when you were eligible to receive unemployment benefits, you can still file retroactively. Under FPUC, you can file back to your date of eligibility or the signing of the state agreement (March 28), whichever came later, through July 31.

The process to file for back payments may vary between states.

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


Find the contact information for your state’s unemployment office at the Department of Labor website. Each state has specific steps to follow; you may be able to apply online, you might need to make a phone call or you could be required to visit your local office. Following your state’s requirements, complete a claim for each retroactive payment you believe you are eligible to receive.

Then, be patient. Unemployment offices are working hard to clear the backlog of claims from millions of applicants.

About the Author

Tricia Goss

Tricia is a professional writer and editor who lives in North Texas with her family and one smelly dog. She is a wannabe problem solver, junk food maven professional coffee practitioner, web guru and general communicator. More.

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