Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

 

Out of Work Due to Covid19? There Are Benefits For You!

Pennsylvania Launches Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

In response to Covid19, a new unemployment benefit program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is available to workers who are not eligible for regular Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC).  

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions about PUA

Check out our FAQ on Weekly Certifications for PUA

PUA covers:

  • Independent contractors or freelancers
  • Self-employed business owners
  • Gig workers 
  • Workers without enough work history to qualify for UC
  • Individuals without work history who had a job offer that was withdrawn due to Covid19 or that they cannot start because of Covid19 

Additionally, anyone who is not eligible for regular UC should be eligible for PUA.  If you have lost your job, lost business, had your hours reduced, or been unable to work due to the Covid19 crisis: 

YOU SHOULD APPLY FOR PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

PUA will provide 39 weeks of:

  • Weekly PUA benefits ranging from $195 to $561 
  • An additional $600 per week from April through July

Do NOT Apply for Regular Unemployment Compensation

The PUA Application is available online at www.uc.pa.gov.

Follow www.facebook.com/PALaborIndustry  or www.facebook.com/philalegal for updates and announcements

To apply for PUA, you should collect:

Documentation of Wages/Earnings

Including but not limited to:

  • Tax returns
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Bank receipts
  • Ledgers
  • Contracts 
  • Invoices
  • Billing statements

Please note, if you are not able to upload documentation when you file your initial application for PUA, that is okay.  You are also able to upload documentation in the PUA portal.

October 5th, 2020 Update on PUA

 

PUA October Updates

Did you lose work prior to the week you opened your PUA claim?

You can request that your claim be “backdated” so that your benefits accurately reflect your period of unemployment.

How to Request Backdating:

  • Call the PUA Call Center at 855-284-8545.
    OR
  • Email ucpua@pa.gov
    • Include "Back Date Request" in the subject line of the email.
    • Provide exact dates and how COVID-19 affected your employment or self-employment for the additional weeks you wish to claim.
    • You only need to send one email request.

Is your claim "In Progress?"

  • If you have been waiting with "In Progress" payments due to an identity confirmation issue, PLA understands that the government will have a new process that will allow you to quickly verify your identity and have benefits released within the next week.
  • There is no action PLA can take at this time to have your benefits released more quickly.

Be on the look out the week of October 5, 2020 for an email from the government with instructions on the steps you need to take to resolve this issue.

July 12, 2020 Update on PUA Claims

If the PUA system told you to file a regular unemployment compensation claim, you must follow that instruction, even if you believe you are not eligible for UC or were previously found ineligible for UC.

On July 5, the unemployment system switched to the 3rd quarter of 2020. This means that the government will now consider W-2 income from the time period of April 2019 - March 2020 when evaluating financial eligibility for all new regular UC claims filed on or after July 5.

This means that many PUA applicants who could not collect regular UC because they were financially ineligible (meaning you had not earned enough wages to qualify) may now be eligible for UC.

If you are eligible for UC, you must collect UC instead of PUA.  That is what the law requires.

Even if you do not think you will be eligible for UC, or you are self-employed with W-2 wages, you must still go file a UC claim. The PUA system will not let you through again until there is a new determination finding you ineligible for regular UC.  There is nothing we can do at Philadelphia Legal Assistance to change that.

After you apply for a regular UC claim, you should follow the instructions on your confirmation email or letter and begin filing biweekly claims on the regular UC system.  If you do not already have one, you will receive a PIN number in the mail to use for filing biweekly UC claims.  

You will be able to use direct deposit if you are eligible for regular UC.  If you choose to use a debit card, you will be able to use the same one sent to you for your PUA benefits.

There will be a delay before you start receiving UC benefits.  However, you will still receive the extra $600 for every week through July 25, 2020 when you receive your benefits.

July 9, 2020 Update on PUA Claims

Many PUA applicants have now been sucessfully collecting PUA benefits for several months.  However, there are still problems with the system that pop up and affect claims.  Furthermore, some PUA claimants disagree with the Weekly Benefit Amount they were assigned.

Do you disagree with your Weekly Benefit Amount for PUA?

PUA claimants can request a redetermination of the weekly benefit amount at any time before the program ends in December 2020.  If you are found to be eligible for a higher rate, you will receive the difference in back benefits after the new determination is issued.

For instructions on how to undertand weekly benefit rates and how to request a redetermination, check out:

PLA's Guide To Challenging Your PUA Weekly Benefit Amount

 

Have your benefits suddenly stopped and your weekly certifications now show "In Progress"?

If your PUA portal tells you there is an unresolved issue, but it does not tell you what the issue is, you may have been incorrectly flagged in a recent effort by the Department of Labor and Industry to identify fraud in the PUA system.  You may be able to resolve the issue with your claim by following these steps: 

  1. Upload 2 forms of identification that will verify your name, current mailing address, and Social Security number. Identification documents must include one valid state or federal government issued photo ID along with a secondary document. You can upload these in the portal under the “document” link from your dashboard.

Valid state or federal government issued photo IDs are:

  • Your Social Security card
  • Your current, unexpired driver's license or photo ID card
  • A United States passport
  • Military ID card
  • Alien Registration card.

Secondary documents could be:

  • A birth certificate
  • Voter ID card
  • W-2 or other tax record
  • Financial institution documents (account statement, loan document, etc.)
  • Vehicle registration/title.
  1. You must send an email to DLIVerify@pa.gov to let the government know your documents are in your account, so they can review and release your claim. You must use the email account you entered when you filed your initial PUA claim to send the email.

***DLIVerify@pa.gov is only used for identity verification.***

May 24, 2020 Update on PUA Applications

Check out our FAQ on Weekly Certifications for PUA

The Department of Labor and Industry has begun issuing Notices of Monetary Determination for PUA benefits.

These notices are based on the information you provided about your 2019 income during the initial application.  You can find your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) at the end of the first paragraph:

You can find an annotated example of a Monetary Determination here.

Underneath that, you should see the income you reported during your initial application.  Here are some important notes about income and WBA:

  • If you did not have any income in 2019 or had minimal income, you automatically qualify for $195 a week.
  • Your WBA is calculated based on gross W2 earnings + net self-employment earnings and depends on your highest quarter of earnings 

Documentation

If you did not upload documentation during your initial application that establishes the income listed on your monetary determination, you should login to the PUA Portal and upload it.  Despite what the notices say, you have until December 30, 2020 to upload supporting documentation.  

What to Do if You Disagree with the WBA

The weekly benefit amount is (or should be) based on your 2019 income (net income for self-employed, gross income for W2 workers). The system is evaluating lots of claimants for the base rate of $195 even if it should be higher based on the quarterly net income or 2019 W2 wages reported during the application.  We do not understand yet why this is happening.

However, PUA claimants can request a redetermination of the weekly benefit amount by uploading documentation of your 2019 income in the PUA portal.  You should receive a new Monetary Determination, although we expect responses from DLI to be rather slow at the moment.

If that does not work, every claimant has the right to appeal their monetary determination.  The appeal deadline is 60 days from the date of the monetary determination.  Appeals can be emailed to ucappeals@pa.gov.

What About the Extra $600?

You will get that automatically.  It is not included in your WBA.  You will receive "back benefits" for the extra $600 for every week you file for starting with the week ending April 4, 2020.  You will then receive the extra $600 a week through the end of July.  Think of it this way, if you qualify for $195, you will actually be receiving $795 a week.

Filing Weekly Claims

The weekly claim system is now available.  You can file weekly claims by logging into the PUA Portal with the username and password you created during your initial application.  You will be able to file all the weekly claims going back to your last day of work (the "Claim Effective Date" on your Monetary Determination).

The Department reports that payments will be received within 1 week of your filing!

Check out our FAQ on Weekly Certifications for PUA

 

April 27, 2020 Update on PUA Applications 

As of now, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) system is only set up to receive your applications.

You cannot file a weekly claim at this time - this is because of the system, it does NOT mean something is wrong with your application.

Important notes about the PUA system:

  • You will not need a PIN number for PUA, instead, you will use the username and password you created during the application.
  • You can file weekly or biweekly claims, once the system is set-up
  • You will be able to upload documentation later if you were not able to upload in the application or have additional evidence.
  • Right now, the system is showing every applicant that they are only eligible for the base amount of $195. The Department has not yet evaluated weekly benefit rates.
  • The system is also showing every applicant that they have 3 “issues” regardless of what you submitted with the application.
  • If you are not able to sign into the system now, that is because of glitches with the website, not because you did something wrong.

If you are unable to submit a PUA application, wait and try again the following week.  PUA benefits will be backdate to the date you lost work, so you will not be harmed if you file an application at a later date.

Many people are struggling with the PUA applicaton.  If you have feedback about your experience, please share it with us.