Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act creates a new temporary federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
In general, PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits.
Individuals covered under PUA include the self-employed (e.g. independent contractors, gig economy workers, and workers for certain religious entities), those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.
Who Is Eligible for PUA Benefits?
You may be eligible for PUA if you are self-employed, do not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC, or have exhausted your rights to regular UC benefits or extended benefits.
PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to covered individuals who are not eligible for regular UC and who are otherwise able and available to work except that they are unemployed, partially employed, or because of any one of the following COVID-19-related reasons:
- You have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Your child or other person in the household for whom you are the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that school or facility care is required for you to work;
- You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine or stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- You are unable to reach your place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or quarantine because you are positive for or may have had exposure to someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19;
- You were scheduled to start a new job and do not have an existing job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- You have become the breadwinner/major supporter for a household because the head of your household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- You had to quit your job due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being unable to perform your work duties;
- Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am a small business owner. Am I eligible for PUA?
Yes, you may be eligible for PUA if your primary source of income is from work you do for your own business or on your own farm.
How much will I receive in PUA benefits?
The amount of PUA benefits you will receive is based on your previous income reported. PUA benefits may not be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit rate for regular UC, which is $572 in Pennsylvania. PUA benefits may not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount. In Pennsylvania, the minimum PUA payment is $195.
All individuals collecting PUA will receive $600 per week from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), in addition to weekly benefits as calculated above. FPUC payments will begin the week ending April 4, 2020. The last week that FPUC is payable is the week ending July 25, 2020.
What documentation do I need to show I was employed or self-employed?
Acceptable documentation of proof of employment or self-employment can include, but is not limited to:
- copies of recent paycheck stubs;
- bank receipts showing deposits;
- billing notices provided to your customers;
- recent advertisements for your business or services;
- statements from recent customers;
- current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; and/or
- building leases.
What documentation do I need to show my previous income?
Acceptable documentation of wages can include but is not limited to:
- tax returns;
- paycheck stubs;
- bank receipts;
- invoices; and/or
- billing statements.
How long will these benefits be available?
The maximum length of time a person may collect PUA benefits is 39 weeks. Eligibility is based on your unemployment caused by one or more of the reasons listed in the FAQ “How do I know if I am eligible for PUA?”
PUA Benefits will no longer be available after the week of December 25, 2020. The last week the FPUC is payable is the week ending July 25, 2020.