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Filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

​​Federal CARES Act Update

 

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) additional $600 benefit payments will be ending on July 25, 2020. Please visit our Federal CARES page for more information and resources.

PUA Payment Update 

Important Information For PUA and PUA-related FPUC

Unemployment Compensation Benefits Recipients

Please Note: This Information Has Been Updated as of July 8, 2020

As part of efforts to combat recent fraudulent activity, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department (Treasury) and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) are arranging for all recipients of unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs to payment by electronic deposits on debit cards.

PUA CLAIMANTS WHO ALREADY HAVE A U.S. BANK RELIACARD

Treasury is currently making payments on debit cards for PUA claimants who previously received a U.S. Bank ReliaCard.1

PUA CLAIMANTS WHO HAVE NOT REQUESTED OR NOT YET RECEIVED A U.S. BANK RELIACARD

ReliaCards, which provide a secure, reliable, and prompt method of delivering funds, are being mailed to you at this time. As additional claimants who have not yet received ReliaCards are approved, their information is forwarded to U.S. Bank for preparation and mailing of debit cards. You should expect to receive your card within about seven to ten days following the issuance of your initial payment by L&I. 

You do not need to do anything to obtain your U.S. Bank ReliaCard. It will be delivered to you automatically. The ReliaCard will arrive in a plain envelope, with a postmark from Indianapolis, IN. You should be careful not to discard this piece of mail. Please see the entire notice for information and details. 

 
You will receive PUA and PUA-related FPUC benefits payments through the ReliaCard, which is a prepaid Visa debit card. The ReliaCard offers a fast and secure way to receive benefits payments, while also providing easy ways to access your money. With ReliaCard, you can make purchases anywhere Visa cards are accepted, get cash back with a purchase, pay bills, and withdraw cash2 at more than 3900 in-network ATMs in Pennsylvania, all without incurring fees. You can monitor your card balance and transactions using the ReliaCard mobile app or cardholder website at usbankreliacard.com. You can sign up for email or text3 alerts to let you know when your benefits are received. You can also transfer funds from your ReliaCard to your bank account2. Fees apply for some transactions and services offered.

Additional important information about the ReliaCard is available here.

You can request to have payments by check reinstated. Payment by check, however, is a slow and resource-intensive method of distributing benefits, and is also subject to the delivery schedules of the U.S. Postal Service.

If you request payment by check, your benefits will be sent via regular first class mail, and generally will take from four to six business days following the day of filing. Please also be aware that the enormous volume of benefits payments resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on both L&I and Treasury. There have been recent instances where these challenges resulted in unpredictable delays and interruptions, frequently in the production and mailing of benefits checks. Delivery of checks in the future is subject to similar uncertainties.

If you wish to receive payment by check, please visit the Treasury website at www.patreasury.gov/ucpuachoice and provide the information requested there.

1. The ReliaCard is issued by U.S. Bank National Association pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. © 2020 U.S. Bank. Member FDIC.
2. Fees and transaction limits apply. See Fee Schedule and Card Carrier for details.
3. For text messages, standard messaging charges apply through your mobile carrier and message frequency depends on account settings.

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.


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.

PUA is only for individuals who are unemployed due to COVID-19 reasons – it does not cover individuals without an attachment to the labor market or those who are unemployed for non-COVID-19 reasons. This benefit is only for individuals who would otherwise be working but are unable to because of the current pandemic.

To learn more about the PUA program refer to the COVID-19 PUA Pamphlet (PUA-5) or visit our PUA FAQs

For information about the PUA System, visit our PUA System FAQs



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. 

Penalty Week Claimants - PUA Eligibility

You may be eligible for PUA benefits if you remained totally or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 reasons and you are ineligible for UC benefits. The US Department of Labor informed Pennsylvania that individuals serving penalty weeks on UC, PEUC, or EB cannot be eligible for PUA payments for the same weeks.  If you are in this situation and you opened a PUA claim in anticipation of the PUA benefits being available, simply stop filing weekly PUA claims to prevent your PUA overpayment from becoming larger.  If you are otherwise unemployed, you should continue filing for your regular UC (or PEUC or EB) benefits in order to serve the penalty weeks. 

Filing an Initial Claim for PUA

Make sure to review the PUA System Guide or our PUA Claimant Assistance Guide for helpful information on what to have ready to prepare for registering and filing your initial claim and how to navigate the PUA system, dashboard and services. You’ll also want to collect proof of 2019 Net Income earnings documents in advance.  Form 1040, Schedule 1 is the preferred document. Other acceptable documentation of wages to calculate your 2019 Net Income can include but is not limited to:
  • ​2019 tax returns;
  • your 2019 1099 form(s);
  • paycheck stubs;
  • bank receipts;
  • ledgers;
  • contracts;
  • invoices; and/or
  • billing statements.

- You do NOT need a Personal Identification Number (PIN) with the PUA system, you will have the username and password that you create.

- You will NOT receive a confirmation email after submitting your initial PUA claim, you can go into the PUA dashboard to see the claim.

- You CAN manage everything through your PUA dashboard - check on your claim status, upload documents, see payment information, etc.

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.
 
  • In the Subject line of the email indicate BACK DATE REQUEST and in the body please indicate exactly when and how COVID affected your employment or self-employment and which weeks you wish to claim.  The effect of COVID-19 on your employment must be due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons in the CARES Act for PUA eligibility. 
  • For example, in your email you could tell us…"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 7th because I have re-opened my business as of  June 8th." 
  • Please only send one such 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.


File for PUA

Filing your Weekly Certification for PUA Benefits 


You can refer to the PUA System Guide, the PUA Claimant Assistance Guide or we’ve created two helpful screenshot guides to help you through the process:
 
You need to file your PUA certifications WEEKLY to get paid. An unemployment week is Sunday through Saturday, so the first day you can file your weekly claim is on Sunday. You don’t have to file on Sunday – you can file your weekly claim any day Sunday through Friday. Payments are made roughly on the same schedule as payments for regular UC, PEUC, and EB: 
  • File on a Sunday = funds available by Tuesday
  • File on a Monday = funds available by Wednesday
  • File on a Tuesday = funds available by Thursday
  • File on a Wednesday = funds available by Friday
  • File on a Thursday = funds available by Monday
  • File on a Friday or Saturday = funds available by Tuesday
Note: Payments may be delayed if there is an eligibility issue that must be resolved before payment can be made. 
 


File PUA Weekly Certification


Experiencing errors within the PUA Dashboard? Please visit our PUA Issue Guide to get a better idea of where your claim may be in the process. 

Call us at 855-284-8545 if you have issues with your PUA claim Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This phone line is for PUA claimants only. We will not be able to assist callers with regular UC questions.

If you have questions or need assistance, please email UCPUA@pa.gov. This email address is for PUA questions only. Emails not related to PUA will not receive a response.  

Have you lost your health insurance? Visit PA Insurance Department's Health Insurance Options webpage for information on options available to you and your family.