The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry launched the application process April 18, 2020, for those that are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic who traditionally would not qualify for benefits.
The CARES Act, which was passed on March 27, 2020, created three temporary relief programs for individuals that are unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Each federal program provides benefits that will help those faced with unemployment get through this difficult and unprecedented time. Each program is meant to supplement each state’s unemployment system, meaning, those that are unemployed due to COVID-19 may be eligible for benefits in addition to what their state unemployment compensation program already provides.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Under the CARES Act, the PUA program expands unemployment compensation eligibility to include those that are self-employed and independent contractors. If you receive a 1099 at the end of the year to report your income, or if you own a small business with no payroll employees, you may be eligible for PAU benefits. In addition, the PUA expanded eligibility to include individuals that wouldn’t qualify for UC due to insufficient work history, part-time employees that may not meet the minimum income requirements, and others that may not traditionally qualify for UC under the current state guidelines.
If you think you may qualify for benefits, you should NOT file a traditional unemployment compensation application. The PA Department of Labor and Industry launched a separate link for those that may qualify to apply. Here’s how to apply:
Step 1: Visit Filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Step 2: At the bottom of the page click “File for PUA”.
Step 3: Once on the new page, you should click the “File a PUA Claim” button in the top left region of the page.
Step 4: Follow the prompts and complete the form.
It is being reported that the website is taking several hours to complete the application process and is constantly crashing. Millions of Pennsylvania residents are trying to access the same website at the same time. If you have any problems or questions, the PA Department of Labor and Industry is asking you to e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a separate e-mail created solely for those applying for PUA benefits. When e-mailing, include your full name, the last 4 digits of your social security number, your telephone number that you can be reached at, and the issue you are having. It may take a few days to get a response.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
Under this program, each individual that is eligible for Unemployment Compensation will receive an additional $600.00 per week in addition to his or her regular benefits provided by the state. This benefit began on April 5, 2020 and is available through July 31, 2020 if the individual remains unemployed through that time.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
This program provides an additional 13 weeks in which an individual can continue to collect unemployment compensation benefits. Under the current UC program in Pennsylvania, those unemployed can only collect benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks. With the expansion of this federal program, those unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic can now receive benefits for up to 39 weeks.
Author: Ashley M. Securda, Esq., Partner