April 8, 2020
An Update on Unemployment Compensation from the Office of PA Representative Jesse Topper
The US Department of Labor has released new guidance on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (benefits for those not eligible for regular UC) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (the extra $600/week), including business owners and independent contractors.
Please be aware that legislative offices cannot provide an opinion on eligibility, and Labor and Industry does not predetermine eligibility for any unemployment program. Interested constituents should continue to check UC’s COVID-19 clearinghouse page – https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx to look for updates.
Important: When the program becomes available, anyone interested should just apply if they think they may be eligible. L&I will make a determination after they apply.
CARES Act updates can be found under this link:
Interim Information and FAQs on CARES Act
Based on US Department of Labor Guidance and L&I Website
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Overview:
- This program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits and is available starting with weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020 and ending on or before December 31, 2020. Benefits will be retroactive for weeks the individual is eligible.
- This program covers individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or whom otherwise would not qualify for regular UC or EB under state or federal law or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Coverage also includes individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular UC or EB under state or federal law, or PEUC.
- Operationally, this program will be administered similar to the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program.
- Individuals must demonstrate that they are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of the COVID-19 related reasons specified in federal law.
- Individuals who have the ability to telework with pay, or who are receiving paid leave benefits will not be eligible.
- A separate application will be posted for this program. Applicants should not apply for regular UC – they need to wait for the application. Interested constituents should keep checking this site for updates on availability: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Frequently Asked Questions
Am I eligible for PUA benefits?
Labor & Industry (L&I & PA legislators) do not predetermine eligibility. When the program becomes available, constituents should review the eligibility criteria and apply if they believe they may be eligible. L&I will make an eligibility determination AFTER receiving the application. (NOTE: you can provide constituents with the overview of the program above, but please do not attempt to answer questions about eligibility – just tell them to apply if they think they may be eligible.)
When will I be able to apply for PUA benefits?
L&I is in the process of developing an application for this program. When that is available, it will be posted on their COVID-19 resource page: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx. Constituents can keep checking that page for updates and the availability of the program. Benefits will be retroactive to weeks of unemployment beginning after January 27, 2020.
The L&I Committee Chairman and staff have suggested that L&I include approximate time-frames on the site to give constituents as much info as possible – but it will be up to L&I on whether to do that.
Will I get the extra $600/week? If you are eligible for PUA benefits, you will get the extra $600/week from the FPUC benefit (see below) for weeks of unemployment between beginning March 28 and July 31, 2020.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC – extra $600/week)
- This program provides an additional $600 per week to individuals who are collecting regular UC (including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)), PEUC, PUA, EB, STC, Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA), Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and payments under the Self Employment Assistance (SEA) program.
- This is available for weeks of unemployment beginning after March 28,2020 and ending with weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020. Benefits will be retroactive.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When can I get the additional $600/week?
L&I needs to implement the additional benefit. If you are eligible, the benefit will be provided to you. The benefit will apply to all weeks of unemployment beginning after March 28 and before July 31. It is expected that the agreement and state implementation could happen quickly, but constituents should keep checking the COVID-19 resource page for updates: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
If am already receiving some type of unemployment benefits, do I have to do anything to get the additional $600/week?
L&I has indicated that if you file for benefits and receive a UC payment, you will receive the additional $600. Federal law provides that the additional payment will be provided concurrently with other unemployment benefits claimants are receiving. Claimants should carefully review any communications (mail, email, online updates) they receive from UC – and follow any instructions. Claimants should also continue to file biweekly claims and take any other actions necessary to maintain eligibility for benefits. Anyone interested in this benefit should keep checking the COVID-19 resource page for updates: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- This is an extended benefits program that provides up to 13 weeks of benefits and is available for weeks of unemployment beginning after the date on which the state enters into an agreement with the Department and ending with weeks of unemployment ending on or before December 31, 2020.
- This program covers individuals who:
- have exhausted all rights to regular UC under state or federal law;
- have no rights to regular UC under any other state or federal law;
- are not receiving compensation under the UC laws of Canada;
- and are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work (states are allowed to provide some flexibility for this last requirement during the pandemic).
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Copensation FAQs:
I already used (or have nearly used) my 26 weeks of regular UC benefits benefits – when will the federal extension be available?
L&I needs to implement the additional benefit. The benefit will provide up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits for weeks of unemployment before December 31. We expect the state implementation to happen quickly, but constituents should keep checking the COVID-19 resource page for updates: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
If I am eligible for these extended benefits, will I have to do anything?
Probably. It seems likely that, at the very least, claimants will have to continue filing biweekly claims to receive these benefits. Claimants should carefully review any communications (mail, email, online updates) they receive from UC – and follow any instructions. Anyone interested in this benefit should keep checking the COVID-19 resource page for updates: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/default.aspx
Posted by Kellie Goodman Shaffer – 4/8/2020.