2.24.21 – Unemployment Benefits Update

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Unemployment Benefits Update

APFA has a resource for Flight Attendants seeking more information about unemployment benefits located here. You will find pertinent information on the unemployment benefits process: How it works, eligibility, CARES Act, Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) benefits, severance pay, and how different types of leaves may affect your eligibility. The page also includes state-specific information with relevant links to each state’s unemployment website along with Government Advocates’ contact information. As you know, eligibility varies from state to state, and each state will determine your eligibility.

As a reminder, APFA cannot provide direct representation for members in unemployment appeals. Due to the sheer volume of appeal filings and fact-finding interviews, we have changed how we assist the Membership. The unemployment resources page on the APFA website has been updated to include a general explanation of the appeals process, legal resources, and exhibits you may choose to use for an appeal hearing. Claimants are responsible for submitting timely exhibits to the state to comply with any guidelines. We encourage you to use the resources found on the website. APFA, in collaboration with American, has successfully recovered over $2.6 million in benefits for claimants throughout the system.

Are you having trouble accessing the APFA website? Contact the Membership Department at 817-540-0108, ext. 8153, during regular business hours.


1. Is it true some Flight Attendants have experienced issues with their claim after receiving unemployment benefits from May 2020?
Each state determines eligibility. Due to the pandemic, some states are now auditing claims filed in May 2020 and are questioning some benefits provided. We cannot confirm that a state will provide eligibility or benefits. Each case is viewed independently.

2. I have received unemployment benefits for the past 12 months. How long can I receive benefits?
Each claim state has an individual length of benefit(s), and these vary. When you file your initial claim, that assessment is good for 52 weeks (even though you may not be eligible for 52 weeks of benefits). Once that time has lapsed, a claimant may file a new claim. If found eligible (the process is the same as the previous years’ eligibility/income review), this new claim period would be for 52 weeks.

3. My initial claim was based on wages earned in North Carolina. I transferred to DFW from CLT in May 2020, have been on a PVLOA, and have not worked out of DFW. If I take the EVLOA-2, in which state should I apply for benefits?
Generally, the base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to claim filing. If there are no earnings in the initial claim filing state for the new base period, you will apply in the state where you are based, and wages were reported (even though you have not flown a sequence out of the new base).

4. Are the unemployment compensation benefits I received included in future base period eligibility calculations?
No. Unemployment compensation benefits are taxable earnings that are not calculated as wages or income.

5. I’m considering VEOP-3 and will receive (or am currently receiving) pension payments. Does this income preclude me from receiving unemployment benefits?
Pension payments not from a base period employer do not reduce the weekly benefit amount (WBA).

6. I was on a PVLOA and collected benefits until my return to active status on January 31, 2021. My initial claim was filed in June of 2020. If I opt for EVLOA-2, would I need to reapply for unemployment benefits?
Your claim is valid for 12 months (52 weeks) from the date of filing. Should you reapply, the claim would revert to any remaining monetary benefits and weeks remaining from the initial application. Generally speaking, once your initial 52 weeks from the first claim have passed, you may apply to open a second claim.

7. I am based in SFO, and my claim is in a pending status. What should I do?
We are aware of the many issues experienced by CA Employment Development Department (EDD) claimants and are working with the Company to secure direct contact with the state. The APFA Government Affairs team drafted a statement any claimant may use to send to their elected representatives.

8. I am afraid of balloting for EVLOA-2 after witnessing my colleague’s experiences with the states. Do I qualify for unemployment by opting for EVLOA-2 to save a more junior Flight Attendant’s job?
Only the state can determine eligibility when you have met certain monetary earnings requirements and other administrative criteria. Participation in these leave programs does not guarantee your status will be reported as a reduction in hours or lack of work.

9. If I take VEOP-3, how are these earnings reported to the state? The General Release of Claims specifically mentions this pay as severance for either lump sum or non-lump sum. 
The Company will report any income as regular wages. You would need to ensure compliance with your claim state in reporting this severance pay.

10. My situation is unique, and I would like to speak with an APFA representative about my claim. Who would I contact for assistance? 
Please review the information found on the unemployment resources page of the APFA website. You may also send an email to unemployment@apfa.org, or use the ‘Contact Us’ form.

11. I am currently on an EVLOA and would like to know if I am required to search for work while receiving benefits?
The Company is working with all base states for a work search waiver for claimants with a defined return-to-work date. It would be up to the individual state to accept the waiver and for what duration.

12. Will I owe taxes on received unemployment benefits?
As always, we suggest having this conversation with your tax preparer. Currently, applicable federal and state taxes are to be paid for any unemployment benefits received. This includes any supplementals (CARES Act, LWA, etc.) Here is a news article that may provide additional information.

13. How do I claim/certify my pay from AA? It was 19 hours and is now 38 hours.
We are unable to advise claimants on how they certify for their benefits. Each state is different in its required reports and certification processes. AA does report all pay as income to the respective state unemployment department.

14. Do I need to claim my vacation payout? I did not take the vacation days.
Each state is different in how vacation buyback/payouts reduce your WBA (weekly benefit amount), if at all. Keep in mind the different types of vacation: buyback/payout and actual scheduled vacation days taken.

15. I am an Illinois claimant and have had no issues until now. I recently received a notice stating that I am ineligible and now owe over $20,000; what do I do?
A claimant may appeal a state unemployment determination. That determination on ineligibility (and subsequent overpayment/recoupment notice) has strict timelines to appeal. We have resources available on the unemployment resources page to address your situation. Provided are available legal resources, documents for exhibits, process explanations, and tips.

16. I received a notice of ineligibility due to the voluntary nature of the leave/VEOP that I took. I helped AA, and now I can’t receive unemployment?
American does not determine eligibility and is not contesting unemployment claims due to COVID-19. Each state determines if ‘good cause’ was prevalent. A voluntary leave/quit does not automatically preclude eligibility. Each state is different in how they view voluntary participation in employee overage programs. We suggest that you appeal any determination with which you disagree.

17. Are wages I received from the PVLOA included in future base period eligibility calculations?
Yes. Wages received from a PVLOA are reported to the state as regular earnings and considered in future claim eligibility.

18. I am receiving benefits from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and read where American could assist with backdating my claim to the start of my PVLOA. Is this true?
The current statewide directive is to follow normal procedures for the backdating of a claim. TWC will need a statement from the claimant to establish good cause for the nature of the late filing. Claimants will need to contact TWC to provide their statement.

19. I filed in North Carolina and was denied benefits due to severance payments. I understand the Governor’s Order established that severance pay would not preclude me from receiving unemployment insurance benefits and filed an appeal.
The North Carolina Support Payment Program is a voluntary program in which American must choose to participate. The Company is currently working with North Carolina DES for the details of participation in the program.

20. Where would I find documents that my pension is not from the base period employer?
If you require any documents related to either an LAA or LUS pension, please send an email to unemployment@apfa.org.


Additional Resources

 

You may choose to use the following statement when contacting your elected officials:

I am an American Airlines Flight Attendant, and I am eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits. I have been unsuccessful in maintaining consistent benefits and have been unable to contact someone in our state unemployment office. As my state representative, I am writing for your assistance to help find who I can contact to resolve my claim issues. Thank you so much.

Disclaimer: The above link is only applicable to claimants with an address in the 11 base states.

  • The APFA National EAP Department may be reached at 817-540-0108 ext. 8701 or eap@apfa.org.
  • Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) 1-800-998-8194 for confidential assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 


Previous Unemployment Hotlines

 

Previous Unemployment Town Halls

Unemployment Virtual Town Halls held October 14-16, 2020 by base may be found on the APFA Town Hall page.

Disclaimer: None of these statements constitutes legal advice. You should contact an attorney for legal advice.

In Solidarity,

David Arnette
Unemployment Specialist

Kelly Hagan
Unemployment Specialist

unemployment@apfa.org

1004 West Euless Boulevard
Euless, Texas 76040

Phone: (817) 540-0108
Fax: (817) 540-2077

 

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