Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
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.
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
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
*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 and
PUA system 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
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.
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.
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.