What to Do When Your PUA Benefits Suddenly Stop

There could be a few reasons why your PUA benefits stopped.

Did your account go “In Progress”?

Watch your dashboard for a message about using a program called “ID.me” to release frozen (“in progress”) benefits!  ID.me is not a scam.  You can verify your identity in several minutes.  You need to do this even if you already uploaded identity documents to your portal.  Your benefits should be released in the following days after you use it.  Use ID.Me even if you uploaded identity documents before. Watch this video to learn how to use ID.Me. 

Did a new “Issue” appear on your claim summary?

If a new issue appears on your claim summary, that means the government has flagged a problem with your claim.  They must investigate that issue before they can deny you benefits.  Keep checking your message center for communication about the issue.  If the government has not made a decision about the issue within 2 weeks, your benefits will continue to be paid while they investigate. 

Did you receive a Notice of Determination disqualifying you because of “other program eligibility”?

If you have a message in your portal with a letter that disqualifies you from PUA because you may be eligible for UC, you should go file for UC.  If you are not eligible for UC or get disqualified, you can provide that documentation to get back on PUA.  If you get this notice and you had already been disqualified from UC, you should appeal.

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

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.

Disqualifications from Benefits 

If you have been disqualified from benefits, your message center will have a message with a determination attached as a PDF.  These determinations, called “Pandemic Unemployment Disqualification Determination” may refer to one of the reasons below.  

If you disagree with the determination, you must appeal.

No Attachment to the Labor Market

In order to qualify for PUA benefits, you must have been working prior to the pandemic, either in employment, as a self-employed individual, or as an independent contractor or freelancer.  The PUA application asked you to certify this information on your application, but the government is further investigating whether you had been attached to the labor force before COVID-19 affected work in Pennsylvania.  You may have received a questionnaire in your message center that the government wants you to fill out and upload to your portal.  

If you are denied because the government says you did not have an attachment to the labor market and you disagree, you should appeal.  Even if you do not have documentation, you will have the opportunity to testify under oath about your work.

Unemployment Not the Result of the Pandemic

To receive PUA benefits, you must be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that you have lost work, had reduced work or hours, or had a firm offer of work withdrawn because of COVID-19.  You will be asked to verify the reason for your unemployment every time you file a weekly certification. 

In some cases, the government will ask you to submit documentation that you lost work because of COVID-19.  You may receive a questionnaire in your message center.

If you are denied because the government says you did not have an attachment to the labor market and you disagree, you should appeal.  Even if you do not have documentation, you will have the opportunity to testify under oath about your work.

Week to Week disqualifications

These only apply for a specific week rather than your whole claim.

Excessive Earnings

If you earn too much to qualify for a week of PUA, you will not be eligible for benefits that week. You will not be found ineligible for the entire program, and you should continue to file your weekly certifications if you haven’t fully gone back to work. You may be eligible for future weeks if your partial earnings reduce enough to qualify you for some or all of your weekly benefit amount. 

Able and Available 

If you say that you are not able and available on a certification, your benefits will stop. Able and available means that you could do some form of work if you were offered. It does not require that you are able to do your most recent job. It just means you could do some form of work and there is a job out there you could accept. For example, could you work at home doing a job over the telephone if provided with the necessary tools?

Reporting You Turned Down Work

If you turn down a suitable offer of work without good cause then you may be disqualified from unemployment benefits.  The government will investigate the situation and look at both whether the offer of work was suitable (for example, is it safe) and whether you had a good reason to turn it down (for example, you are high risk or are caring for children).