Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
How You Can Benefit
What is it?
One of the multiple Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits available under the CARES Act is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It is a brand new program developed to expand each state’s existing UI benefits to cover a wider range of unemployed workers who may not necessarily be covered under normal UI circumstances.
This new program is different from the already established Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program, although it’s possible for an individual to apply for benefits under both plans. Unlike the DUA, however, the PUA is specific to COVID-19 related job loss and will not be used once its established time frame has expired.
The expansion covers anyone who may not qualify for regular UI benefits, but are still out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include those who are self-employed, independent contractors, part-time workers, and gig workers, like ride-sharing drivers.
Am I eligible?
Each state will individually confirm an applicant’s eligibility, but there are certain qualifications laid out within the program that need to be met.
Applicants must be unemployed due to one of the following reasons:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a diagnosis
- You are unable to work because a health care provider advised you to self-quarantine due to COVID-19
- A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- You are providing care for a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- A child or other person in the household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility is unable to a facility that is closed due to COVID-19 and the the facility care is required for you to work
- You became the breadwinner for your household because the original head of household has died due to COVID-19
- You have had to quit your job due to COVID-19*
- Your place of employment is closed due to COVID-19
- You were scheduled to start a job that is now unavailable due to COVID-19
- You are unable to reach your place of employment due to COVID-19
- You work as an independent contractor with reportable income and are unemployed, partially employed, or unable/unavailable to work due to COVID-19
*for many states this does not mean an individual is eligible for these benefits simply because they quit due to concerns they would become infected at their place of work
How much will I receive?
Each state will determine its own monetary compensation when setting up the infrastructure to process these new PUA claims. Most states will pay the benefits out on a weekly schedule and payments will usually include $100-$500+ in benefits depending on each applicants’ circumstances. You will need to check with your specific state’s Unemployment Insurance Office here to confirm what you may be compensated with.
The program itself allows for up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits, retroactively beginning 2/2/20 and ending 12/26/20. You will need to verify with your state’s particular process which start/end date you qualify for as different states have different specifications as to which weekday benefits will begin and end.
Where do I apply?
Each state has its own Unemployment Insurance Office for their residents to utilize when applying for UI benefits. You may access your state’s UI website here and/or here for further information on applying for and receiving the benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. They will also be able to inform you of the estimated length of time you can expect to wait while waiting to receive any approved benefits.
Where do I find more information?
The U.S. Department of Labor has a program overview here.
The U.S. Department of Labor: Employment & Training Administration has a general Unemployment Insurance Fact Sheet here.
The National Association of Realtors has a program overview here as well.
All information in this article was sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor’s overview along with additional information provided by the Unemployment Insurance Office websites for CA, NY, NH, KS, IA, MI, NV.