Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Eligibility Changes

By March 11, 2021COVID-19

State agencies will increase the instances where claimants may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Claimants who fall into the following categories may be considered eligible for benefits as long as all other criteria are met:

  1. Received benefits but denied continued regular benefits after they refused to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that was not in compliance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
  2. Laid off or hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Employed within a school without a contract or reasonable assurance of continued employment. Employed within a school but facing reduced paychecks or no assurance of continued pay when schools are closed due to COVID-19.

These new categories will be retroactive and will apply as if they were included from the start of PUA. However, claimants who filed their first initial PUA claim after December 27, 2020 will be limited to weeks of unemployment beginning on or after December 6, 2020. Claimants must self-certify unemployment or that they were unable to work due to COVID-related reasons during the applicable time period.

Please be aware that expanding benefits and retroactively applying them will take a significant amount of time for the state agencies to implement. The Department of Labor believes that expanded eligibility will not be available until the end of March 2021, but approved claimants should receive benefits paid retroactive to their date of eligibility. Additionally, the Department of Labor will provide state agencies with the necessary funds so that they can update their systems and enable retroactive PUA payments to eligible claimants.

Mike Parker

Author Mike Parker

Mike has 30 years of experience in unemployment cost control management, and has been with Thomas & Company for 25 years. He is the primary contact with state agencies building strong relationships, lobbying for opportunities that increase quality of service and efficiencies, and insuring compliance with state specific requirements. He works with the client service team, answering technical questions related to the unemployment insurance programs administered by the individual states and oversees the processes associated with wage audits and fraudulent claim inquiries. Mike is a member of the SIDES Operations Committee and currently sits on four Operations Committee subcommittees.

More posts by Mike Parker