Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)/Compensation Programs

The CARES Act provides for federal funding for unemployment assistance to individuals directly and indirectly affected by COVID-19, and expands coverage to include individuals who are not typically eligible for unemployment assistance such as independent contractors, the self-employed and those with limited work histories.

Who is a covered individual?

The law covers individuals who cannot work because: they have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and cannot work; they need to care for a family member who has been diagnosed with Covid-19; they need to care for a family member whose school, day care or care facility has been shut down because of Covid-19; they are in a self-quarantine, health provider-ordered quarantine or cannot get to work because of a quarantine; they were about to start a new job and cannot because of Covid-19; or they had to quit because of the above situations. It will also cover employees whose employer shut down because of Covid-19. Workers are not eligible for PUA if they can either telework with pay or are receiving paid sick days or paid leave.

Who is eligible due to the program expansion?

The program has been expanded to include self-employed individuals, part-time employees, freelancers, gig workers, and independent contractors. Individuals already receiving unemployment benefits are eligible for an increase in benefits for up to 18 weeks. Individuals who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits and are not eligible for emergency unemployment compensation are eligible. Individuals who are able to telework with pay and who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid benefits are not eligible for assistance.

How much?

Under this provision, the benefit is equal to the amount that would normally be provided under state law plus an additional $600 through July 31, 2020. For self-employed and individuals not normally eligible, the benefit amount is equal to one-half of the state’s average weekly UI benefit. The extra $600 per week provided by the government will last up to 4 months.  This benefit will be taxable like regular unemployment benefits.

Is there a waiting period?

How long will I receive benefits?

Most states provide 26 weeks of benefits. This bill will provide an additional 13 weeks for participating states, a sum of up to 39  weeks in most states. Benefits cannot exceed 39 weeks.

When will I receive it?

Benefits are available immediately (i.e., no one-week waiting period). The increased (extra $600) benefit would be available from the date the state enters into an agreement until July 31, 2020.

How do I apply?

In order to apply for unemployment, you should fill out an application through your state’s unemployment website.