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Federal CARES Act

What you need to know and do about the federal CARES Act

The federal CARES Act was signed into law March 27, 2020. The Act provides enhanced Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for Pennsylvanians. 

For specific details, read our Notice of CARES Act Programs Potentially Available to You.

​Lost Wages Assistance Program

On Sept. 9, 2020 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified L&I that the last week for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program is Sept. 5, 2020 due to the fund's depletion. This is not an L&I decision. No additional payments will be allowed after Sept. 5, 2020.

The federal LWA program provided Pennsylvania $2.8 billion to give an extra $300 a week in additional funds to individuals that are unemployed (or partially unemployed) because of COVID-19 from August 1 through September 5.

LWA Program Eligibility

  • You must be fully or partially unemployed due to COVID-19, and
  • You must have a weekly benefit rate (+ dependent allowance, if applicable) totaling $100 or more, and
  • You must receive a payment each week from one of the qualifying programs:
      • Unemployment Compensation
      • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
      • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
      • State Extended Benefits
      • Shared-Work
      • Trade Readjustment Allowances
You will certify only ONCE for the LWA program. Complete your LWA Certification as soon as possible as funds are limited and not guaranteed.

The LWA certification will be available when you’re due to file your biweekly claim, or it will be available if you are no longer filing. Individuals should fill out their LWA certification using their UC PIN by selecting "Complete LWA Certification" in the same application used to file biweekly claims.

The LWA application is also available in paper format to print and mail. 

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) - For UC Benefit Exhaustees
An additional 13 weeks of UC benefits, beyond the regular 26 weeks already provided, for a total of 39 weeks of coverage.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) - Self-Employed, Contractors
Expanded eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for UC benefits (e.g., self-employed workers, independent contractors)
Federal CARES Act - Which UC Program should you file for?

The federal CARES Pennsylvania Guidance one-pager includes information on what you need to know and do. 

If you have already been approved for UC benefits, here is what you should do:

    • Do nothing – your benefits will automatically be updated. DO NOT CALL, it will only make it difficult for others to reach an agent.
What you may qualify to receive under FPUC
    • An additional $600/week until July 25, 2020 (beginning April 4, 2020)

If you’ve exhausted 26 weeks of benefits after July 6, 2019, here's what you should do:

    • Individuals whose unemployment benefit year has expired. Your benefit year expires one year (52 weeks) after your regular unemployment application for benefits date.  Apply for PEUC online.
    •  Individuals who are still within their unemployment benefit year do NOT need to apply. Once you receive the balance of your regular unemployment benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in the PEUC program for the additional 13 weeks of benefits.
What you may qualify to receive
    • 13 weeks of benefits
    • An additional $600/week until July 25, 2020 (beginning April 4, 2020) 


If you are NOT traditionally eligible for UC benefits, you may be eligible for PUA, here's what you should do:

    • You should first try to file for regular unemployment
    • If you are denied or ineligible, then apply for PUA online.
What you may qualify to receive
    • 39 weeks of PUA benefits
    • An additional $600/week until July 25, 2020 (beginning April 4, 2020)
 

UC and Federal CARES program progression PDF

Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Program Progression

Understanding the Programs & How to get Benefits

 The U.S. Department of Labor directs the order of Unemployment Compensation programs. You will need to apply, and exhaust all benefits available under each of the below programs before being eligible to apply for the next program.

1.     Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation – Up to 26 Weeks of Benefits

    • Regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits are available to individuals who have lost their job or had hours reduced through no fault of their own and are found financially eligible. Visit www.uc.pa.gov and select "File an Initial Claim" to apply.
    • Eligible to receive $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) until it expires on July 25, 2020.

2.     Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – 13 Weeks

    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) becomes available after regular UC benefits are exhausted. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/PEUC to learn about applying.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount based on regular unemployment claim.
    • Eligible to receive $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) until it expires on July 25, 2020.

3.     Pennsylvania Extended Benefits (EB) – Up to 13 Weeks

    • Extended Benefits becomes available after regular UC benefits and PEUC benefits are exhausted.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount is based on regular unemployment claim.
    • Number of Extended Benefit Weeks are typically 50 percent of the amount of regular UC claim weeks you were financially eligible to receive (e.g. regular UC claim eligibility for 23 weeks, means you'll receive 11.5 EB weeks of benefits.)
    • There is no application, EB-eligible claimants will receive a letter in the mail after their PEUC claim is exhausted.
    • EB claimants will simply file their weekly certification as they did for regular UC and PEUC.
    • Eligible to receive $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) until it expires on July 25, 2020.

4.    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Up to 39 Weeks

    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is payable for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by COVID-19 related reasons beginning on or after January 27, 2020. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/PUA to apply.
    • Weekly Benefit Amount is based on 2019 taxes, 1099's, W-2, or any additional documentation that will verify 2019 earnings.
    • Eligible to receive $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) until it expires on July 25, 2020.

 

The guidance from this document is subject to change.
Last updated: Sept. 4, 2020