The current job market continues to fluctuate amid the active COVID-19 pandemic, leaving an unprecedented number of workers being laid off and struggling to find alternative employment opportunities. Without a clear sense of when the economy will return to its former stability, millions of Americans continue to grapple with insecurity in their health, livelihoods, finances, and jobs. In times of need, however, there are always resources available to make life a little easier.
Introduced as a federal provision Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) ActThe Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides emergency assistance to the unemployed for those who are excluded from traditional state unemployment and whose state unemployment benefits have been exhausted. PUA insurance is available until December 31, 2020. Eligible applicants can receive retrospective benefits to ensure that the highest level of financial assistance is received.
Whether you are newly unemployed or your State Unemployment Benefit is nearing the end of its term, use this Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Guide to get a better understanding of the program, assess your eligibility for PUA, and support in your State to find.
What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a federal program that extends unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility to those who may not qualify under traditional state and federal standards. PUA extends Unemployment benefit for the self-employed Workers, independent contractors, freelancers, and part-time workers whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was introduced under the Coronavirus Aid, Assistance and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide quick and direct economic relief in one place to those in need who may have lived from paycheck to paycheck and now have to get by Emergency budget. PUA provides temporary income to eligible individuals who have been recently unemployed Due to the pandemic, they are either self-employed, do not have sufficient work experience to be eligible for regular UI entitlement, or have received other types of unemployment insurance benefits provided by their state.
What is the difference between Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
While both UI and PUA offer financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs or whose hours have been reduced, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance offers specific conditional restrictions that can limit benefits and insurance coverage for qualified applicants. The most notable difference between the two is that PUAs are only offered to those whose unemployment or reduced working hours are a direct result of the pandemic.
The pandemic unemployment benefit is also limited and only available from January 27, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The regular unemployment insurance does not limit the eligibility for financial support in terms of time. In some cases, PUA could offer a higher payout than the regular user interface because the minimum amount for PUA benefits in some states is higher than the minimum benefit amount for the regular user interface.
Most states offer Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through their regular unemployment insurance programs, which can also help you determine which financial assistance option is best for your particular situation.
Do I qualify for PUA?
If you do, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Not You are entitled to regular unemployment insurance (UI) and are unemployed or have reduced working hours due to circumstances directly related to COVID-19 and for reasons permitted under federal law. Those who can qualify are:
Dismissed full-time and part-time workers (if declined for the traditional user interface)
Full-time and part-time workers on leave (if declined for the traditional user interface)
Workers with limited work experience
Employees who have exhausted their regular UI benefits.
To get PUA you must bring proof that you are unemployed, your working hours have been reduced, you cannot work, or you cannot work because of one or more of the following circumstances:
Your workplace is closed due to COVID-19
You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19
You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
You are looking after a child or other household member who cannot go to school or work because it is closed due to COVID-19
A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
You are caring for someone diagnosed with COVID-19
You have been instructed by a health care provider to quarantine yourself
You are about to take up employment and you are out of work or unable to get to work due to COVID-19
You have become the breadwinner of a household because the head of the household died as a direct result of COVID-19
Are independent contractors eligible for PUAs?
As opposed to traditional unemployment insuranceIndependent contractors in general have traditionally not been excluded from receiving pandemic unemployment benefits. Self-employed and independent contractors may be eligible for PUAs if they are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This even includes app-based workers like ridesharing drivers and gig workers. Most states instruct independent contractors who need assistance to either apply for a regular user interface (as qualifications vary from state to state) or apply for a PUA if the regular user interface rejects them.
How can I find my state's unemployment resources?
When looking for unemployment benefits in your state, your state's Department of Labor is your primary port of call. Visit the US Department of Labor Services by Location Here you will find the exact link to the application page for unemployment benefits in your country of residence.
Remember that each state has its own unemployment insurance program. Therefore, it is important that you conduct your eligibility research in accordance with your state. For more guidance on finding unemployment insurance resources during COVID-19, please visit dol.gov.
How can I apply for Pandemic Unemployment Benefit?
To apply for pandemic unemployment benefits, you must apply to your state's unemployment insurance company. From there, the state determines whether you are eligible for a regular user interface or need PUA to suit your individual situation. Depending on the federal state, claims can be made by phone, online or in person.
Tips for applying for PUAs:
It is important that you contact your state's unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after you become unemployed. This will ensure that you get the financial assistance you need in a timely manner.
You should file your unemployment claim in the state where you worked. In the event that you have worked in a different state than the one in which you now live or If you've worked in more than one state, the state unemployment insurance agency you currently live with can provide instructions on how to file your claim with other states.
When making a claim, you will be asked to provide information such as addresses and details of your previous employment. Provide complete and accurate information to ensure your claim is processed quickly and efficiently.
Make sure you enter your social security number and date of birth correctly
When asked why you are unemployed, do not answer “none of them apply”. Applicants must meet a specific COVID-related reason in order to receive benefits. Choose the option that comes closest to your individual situation.
What do I do if my entitlement to benefits is denied?
According to the federal government, the unemployment pandemic assistance program is a last resort for those in immediate need of financial assistance. This means that PUA insurance is only available to people who are not entitled to regular state unemployment insurance or who have been rejected by regular state unemployment insurance.
If you've been denied regular unemployment insurance in your state, there are a few common reasons for it:
Your income does not entitle you to regular unemployment insurance benefits. If you have received a currency inquiry that shows you are not eligible for benefits, consider filing a claim specifically used for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
You filed a lawsuit less than a year ago but got all your benefits. When you have used all of the benefits available to you on a claim you filed in the past year, you should submit a claim using the pandemic unemployment compensation link in your state.
You are unemployed for a reason other than the pandemic.
If you are unemployed for a reason not related to COVID-19, you will need to file a regular UI claim to see if you are eligible for standard unemployment insurance benefits in your state. Note that if you quit your job, you won't qualify for UI or PUA.
While you may be unemployed right now, you still have access to resources that can help you maintain your financial well-being during these troubled economic times. If you have lost income due to COVID-19 and for some reason are not eligible for your state's unemployment insurance, try applying for Pandemic Unemployment Benefit. It might help you release a little pressure as you keep your job hunt and look for new opportunities.
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