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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Extension – Program Update

The PUA Program Extension roll-out on January 22 has alerted L&I of multiple issues with our system that we are working to correct. Below we've outlined the current issue and provided information on the resolution or an update on what corrective action we're taking. 

No matter what issue you have, please continue to file and our system will correct the claim moving forward. 

PUA System Slowness or Page Load Issues

  • Our system was experiencing slowness and failing to load pages due to the high amount of website traffic. 
  • A "waiting room" will now be activated during high traffic periods to prevent the system from being overloaded so users can complete their activity once in the system.

Reopening Your Claim 

  • The system notifies you that your claim is inactive even though you previously filed for the week of December 26.
  • Go to "Latest News and Announcements" on your dashboard to see the directions on how to reopen your claim. 

Self-identified Permanent Resident

  • You will not receive benefits until L&I verifies your work status. You should continue to file your weekly certifications. 
  • Upload your permanent resident/visa information to your dashboard. 
  • If you are a U.S. Citizen and answered the question inaccurately, upload your birth certificate, passport or information to show your citizenship status. 
  • This was a system fix that occurred in November and is unrelated to the new CARES Act extension.

Only Received One January Payment

  • This is due to the recalculation of your balance.
  • You do NOT need to refile for weeks ending January 2, 9, or 16, because L&I will process the filed claims once the issue is corrected. 

You Filed Before PUA Program Reopened on January 22

  • The COVID-19-2 link caused your claim to appear inactive as this was too early to file for the program as it wasn't implemented yet.
  • Most of these claims are fixed and we'll continue working to fix any others we identify.
  • Your COVID-1 claim has been or will be activated so you can file. 

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance  (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.

PUA benefits are only for individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19 reasons, it does not cover:

  • Individuals without an attachment to the labor market, or
  • Individuals who are unemployed for non-COVID-19 reasons.

UC Claimants Exhausting Extended Benefits
You may be eligible for PUA benefits, but being eligible for PUA is not automatic. 
Here are the factors to consider before applying for PUA:
  • If at any time you re-qualify for another program, you must stop filing for PUA and apply for the other program. If your UC benefit year has ended, you should file a new regular UC claim to see if you qualify before opening a PUA claim.
  • PUA is only for individuals who would otherwise be working but are unable to because of the current pandemic. To see if you're eligible, review:
  • PUA is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits, but you must subtract any claim weeks for which you were paid at least $1 of regular UC or Extended Benefits since February 2, 2020. PEUC weeks are excluded.
      • For example, if you received 18 weeks of UC payments and 9 weeks of EB payments, you may be eligible for 12 weeks of PUA (39 possible PUA weeks – 18 UC weeks – 9 EB weeks = 12 PUA weeks).
      • The week ending Saturday, December 26 is the last payable week of the PUA program, regardless of how many weeks of benefits you may have remaining in your balance.
When completing the PUA application, remember that you do not financially qualify for regular UC if your UC benefit year is still active and you claimed all your available UC, PEUC, and EB benefits. 

Check out our infographic or watch our video that illustrates who is NOT eligible for PUA.

Infographic of individuals not eligible for PUA

Groups who should NOT File for PUA

  • Retired, with no job and no job offer
  • Individuals who were not working at all or did not have a job offer
  • Inmates
  • Children who were not working in actual employment
  • Being paid to file other people's PUA application. This is ILLEGAL; report these individuals to the authorities
  • College students with no job and no job offer
  • Individuals on Social Security Disability with no work attachment
  • Claimants who work as an employee and should file UC
  • Individuals living in a halfway house on lockdown
  • Landlords 
*Knowingly making false statements or omitting material facts to obtain PUA benefits to which you are not entitled will result in a disqualification and repayment of all overpaid PUA and corresponding FPUC benefits. You may also be subject to criminal prosecution. 

You should file for PUA if you are ineligible for regular UC because you have lost income due to COVID-19 and

  • are self-employed, or
  • are seeking part-time work, or
  • lack sufficient work history, or
  • have exhausted all rights to regular UC or extended benefits. 

Learn more about the PUA program.
Learn more about the PUA System.
Find answers to PUA FAQs
PUA Issue Codes and their meanings
Learn more about the Federal CARES program.
Learn about PUA and unemployment scams and what to do if you're impacted.

Request for PUA Claim Backdating

If you are looking to have the effective date of your claim earlier than the week in which you opened your claim, you can call the PUA Call Center at 855-284-8545 OR you can send an email request to UCpua@pa.gov.
 
Email Backdating Request:

  •  Include "Back Date Request" in the subject line of the email
  • Provide exact dates and how COVID affected your employment or self-employment for the additional weeks you wish to claim.

Examples: I want to backdate to March 22nd because I have not worked since March 20th and where I worked has remained closed due to the Governor's closure orders." OR "I want to go back to March 15th because I had to temporarily close my business until June 6th due to the Governor's closure orders. Please note I don't need to claim as of June 7 because I have re-opened my business as of  June 8." 

  • Send only one email request as they will be processed as fast as possible and multiple requests will only delay our ability to process in a timely manner.

Updates & News

12/5/20 PUA Claimants: Dashboard Login Change

Due to an influx of failed hacking attempts to log in to our PUA system, L&I has added an additional security measure. 

Now when logging on to your PUA dashboard, you will need to:
1.     Enter your Username and Password,
2.     THEN select the "I'm not a robot" reCAPTCHA to enter the site.
3.     Select "Sign In"

Please see our complete PUA Dashboard CAPTCHA Guide that walks you through the process.

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ALERT: New Phishing Attempt & Fraud Scheme 

The Department of Labor & Industry’s (L&I) security vendor ID.me has identified additional phishing attempts and fraud scams leveraging social media, text messaging, and email to lure unsuspecting individuals into providing personal information so that the scammers can claim their identity for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 

The most recent scams include but are not limited to telling individuals they’ve won contests, won a cash prize, being eligible for monetary award for applying for benefits or offering an alternative or “faster” application or mobile app to apply for regular unemployment or PUA benefits. If you were a victim of ID Theft, it is very important to report the PUA fraud activity to the Department and return the money. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/fraud to learn more. 


Oct. 9, 2020 - PUA Weekly Filing COVID-19 Question Notice:

The next time you log in to file weekly PUA claims, you will be asked to choose your reason for unemployment for every individual week from the first week of PUA benefits claimed through early June.  The recertification is a requirement of the US Department of Labor.  

The question is the same one asked each week as part of the weekly filing process.  Individuals must choose their reason for unemployment from a list of reasons from the CARES Act.  Individuals will not be able to proceed with claiming weekly benefits for the most recent week until all of the past certifications are complete.  

Those who did not open claims until mid-June have already answered this question for each week and will not be asked to re-certify. 


Identity Verification
Beginning October 8, the Department is notifying certain individuals through their PUA dashboards that they must go through identity verification with ID.Me to continue their PUA claim.  Individuals should follow the link from their dashboard message to complete the steps.
 
PUA staff will inform PUA claimants without internet access if their identity must be verified.  This will occur when the claimant calls for his/her next weekly benefit filing.  Those individuals must mail photocopies of two forms of identification (one including a photo) to the Department of Labor & Industry, Office of UC Service Centers, Room 501, 651 Boas St. Harrisburg, PA 17121.


PUA Payment InformationImportant Information For PUA and PUA-related FPUC

PUA Weekly Certification Update
PUA claimants will notice a federally-required change in the weekly claim application for benefits, which was added to Pennsylvania’s PUA application on Friday, June 12. The U.S. Department of Labor requires individuals to certify for each week of PUA benefits claimed that they are unemployed for at least one of the COVID-19 reasons provided in Section 2102 of the CARES Act

If at any time you are no longer unemployed for one of the COVID-19-related reasons included in Section 2102 of the CARES Act, or your unemployment is due to reasons other than one of these specific pandemic-related reasons from Section 2102 of the CARES Act, then you are no longer eligible for PUA benefits. At that point, you should simply stop filing for weekly PUA benefits.

As an important reminder because individual situations may change over time, the reason(s) for unemployment which you initially provided is not required to match the reason(s) you remain unemployed.

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