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

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  • Individuals without work history who had a job offer that was withdrawn due to Covid19 or that they cannot start because of Covid19 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.

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.