Pandemic Unemployment Assistance For Low Income Unemployed – Unemployment has been an insidious problem in America due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate of unemployment in the United States of America soared to 14.7% in April 2020 as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of unemployed individuals rose to 23.1 from 15.9 million in April 2020.
The Coronavirus Aid Relevant Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package was designed by then President Donald Trump to provide unemployment insurance for out-of-work Americans and help them cover rent, house expenses and groceries. The Cares Act expanded the unemployment insurance benefits to workers through three main unemployment programs: the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. This guide will throw light on the importance of the PUA program in the COVID-19 situation
Highlights of this Post
What Was The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
The United States Federal Government had designed a program known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that expanded the Unemployment Insurance Benefits for a temporary period to individuals who would otherwise have not been qualified.
The pandemic assistance was provided to freelancers, self-employed workers, part-time workers and independent contractors who were impacted financially due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was one of the most popular programs designed by the Coronavirus Relief And Economic Security Cares Act.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expired on 6th September 2021 along with many other employment-associated programs that were designed to provide COVID-19 relief.
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Eligibility Criteria For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was designed to support workers who would otherwise have not been qualified for the unemployment insurance program. Workers were required to give self-certification that they were available for work and were ready to work.
The program extended unemployment benefits to the following eligible workers.
- Workers seeking part-time work
- Freelancers as well as independent contractors
- Workers who would otherwise not qualify for benefits available under federal or state law
- Workers who do not have a long work history qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits.
- The other eligibility criteria were being partially employed, unemployed, unavailable for work or unable to work because of the COVID-19 situation
The other criterias required the following:
- A family member was diagnosed with COVID-19
- You were showing symptoms or being diagnosed with COVID-19
- You were looking after someone in your household diagnosed with COVID-19
- You were quarantined or suggested by a healthcare professional to self- quarantine
- You quit your job due to COVID-19 situation
- You became the breadwinner of the family as the head of the household died due to COVID-19
- You were about to start a job but failed to reach it or no longer join it because of COVID-19
- You looked after a household member or a child who could not attend school or visit care facility due to COVID-19 closure
- Your job location was closed due to COVID-19
- You met all the eligibility criteria set by the United States Labor Secretary.
This program started on 27 January 2020 and was set to expire on 31st December 2020 under the Cares Act however it was extended until 14th March 2021 when the Consolidated Appropriations Act was signed on 27 December 2020 into federal law.
This gave a new life to the program and added 29 weeks after the Biden administration passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021. The program expired on 6th September 2021 after 79 weeks.
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Documentation For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The federal rules required candidates to provide proof of documents such as the following
- You need to provide your Social security number
- If you are not a citizen of the United States, then you must provide a Number which is USCIS Number
- You have to provide your correct residential address
- Point of contact (telephone or mobile number)
- Email Address for updates and verification documents
- Wage history covering self-employment, employment, and exempt employment in 2019-2020 before the point you were impacted by the pandemic
- In order to receive the claim correctly, applicants had to submit valid proofs and documents about their employer, address, and the date of the former employer where they last worked. They need to provide (SSN) social security numbers also.
- Earnings and leave statements
- Paycheck stubs that showed the first and last name of the applicant, the employer’s name, the pay period date or the date the check was issued.
- State or federal Employer Identification number
- Business license or lease agreements for self-employed individuals
- A bona fide offer of work that was supposed to begin during the pandemic but was unable due to the consequences of the pandemic. (A bona fide offer refers to an official definite offer with a starting date and not just a potential employment or interview). The applicant must show the name of the employer and contact information, written offer from the employer, position information, scheduled or proposed date of starting the job and work location.
- Signed affidavits or documents verifying your attachment to nonprofit organizations such as AmeriCorps, PeaceCorps or other religious or educational organizations.
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How Much Benefits Were Received Through The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
The PUA benefits were subject to the federal income tax. The program calculated the benefit level of an individual based on the income they received the last time before filing their claim. For instance, if they have filed a tax claim in 2020 then their income in 2019 will be used for calculating their unemployment benefit level.
For self-employed individuals their net income after deductions were used to calculate the benefit level. For individuals who were not self-employed the gross income before deductions was used for calculating the benefit level.
The PUA calculation to determine the amount to be able is similar to regular employment which is 60% of the average weekly salary of the person, up to a maximum of $731 per week in 2021 for up to 79 weeks. Individuals who could not meet the requirements for a valid unemployment claim received minimum assistance of $230 per week. Total dollar amount issued through PUA is $130 billion.
Recipients of public unemployment assistance were also eligible for an additional $300 per week benefits from January 2021 to 4th September 2021.
How do I apply for unemployment benefits?
We are providing you a step-step process on how to submit your application for the eligible benefits considering unemployment benefits.
- You can simply visit the state’s unemployment assistance portal, follow the instructions given in the application, and submit your application.
- After submitting your application, if your documents and proofs are valid, the US Department of Labor will review your application and check your details for confirmation.
- You need to verify your details if there is any kind of information that the department would require related to eligibility within the set time. Failure to submit your information will result in the disqualification of your application.
- If all the details are correctly submitted and are reviewed and approved, you can receive your money in 3 to 4 business days if your account is a direct deposit or otherwise you, it could take at least 10-14 business days
What Are The Other Unemployment Programs Under The CARES Act In Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic?
The Unemployment Insurance Program is a benefit that qualified people have while they are not working. The program offers assistance to unemployed people who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. The program offers jobless workers with compensation to replace a part or all of their wages. The rules to qualify for the Unemployment Insurance Program today are different depending on your state of residence.
In a few states, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria for instance working a minimum amount of time in the previous 12 to 15 months and earning a minimum amount of money annually. You also should show an acceptable reason for losing your job and be available for work. To apply for this program visit the official website of the US. Department of Labor.
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Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation under the Cares Act refers to an emergency program designed to assist Americans who were affected by to COVID-19 pandemic and extends the number of weeks an unemployed person could collect benefits. Total dollar amount issued: $84 billion.
The program expired on 6th September 2021 and provided an additional 40 weeks of assistance in addition to the original 13 weeks of extended benefits. Anyone who had exhausted their unemployment compensation benefits was eligible to get additional weeks of benefits through this program.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program offered an additional weekly support of $600 to unemployment benefits that expired on 31st July 2020. The program gave flat amounts for individuals who already received unemployment insurance as well as individuals with partial unemployment benefit checks.
In late December 2020, the program was modified and extended as a part of The Consolidated Appropriation Act and later by the American Rescue Plan Act to offer $300 benefits per week. The program officially expired on 6th September 2021. The program initially provided a benefit of $600 that was reduced to $300. Total dollar amount issued: $439 billion
Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation
Self-employed individuals and W2 employees both could receive an additional $100 per week through the Mixed-Earners Unemployment Compensation Program.
Short-Term Compensation or Work Sharing
Work sharing or short-term compensation extended federal funding to the states for making work sharing available and accessible for employers so that they can rehire employees who had been laid off and enable them to remain employed.
Employers can supplement pay with short-term compensation payments and can slowly reopen with the employees working fewer hours.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC Benefits
On March 27th, 2020 the federal government initiated a new Act or law which is the “CARES Act”. Under this Act, the unemployment benefits are extended up to 13 weeks under the new pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program. It is an extension of the state unemployment insurance benefits.
PEUC is made from Federal Act 2020. This is applied when you exhausted your regular state unemployment insurance program. All individuals who were eligible for regular state unemployment insurance were also eligible for PEUC benefits. It was not necessary to have a COVID-19 Pandemic reason in order to receive PEUC benefits.
The government of the United States of America in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic implemented a lot of emergency measures as well as financial stimulus to give a boost to the economy and help workers and Americans who were forced to stay unemployed at their homes. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program temporarily extended the unemployment benefits to qualified self-employed workers who would be affected due to the COVID-19 situation. While this program is no longer active, individuals can get assistance with the unemployment insurance program.
Frequently Asked Questions
In difficult times the government is helping people with many grants for the unemployed people. You can find better help and can apply for grants which can help you.
What do you mean by Pandemic Unemployment Grants?
Pandemic Unemployment Grants and assistance covered those individuals who had lost their job or business due to Covid 19 pandemic situations. Those who are jobless now can apply for the Unemployment Insurance Program.
Who can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Grants?
Pandemic Unemployment Grants were only for those needy who have lost their job, business, or source of income and do not fall under Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.
How can I apply for Unemployment Grants?
To apply for Unemployment Grants, you have two options 1. You can visit the local unemployment office and can complete the further process or 2. You can visit the official website of the US. Department of Labor to apply for assistance.
Who Was Eligible To Receive PUA?
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits was designed to support needy workers who would otherwise not qualify for the federal unemployment insurance program. The workers targeted by this program included part-time gig workers, freelancers and self-employed workers. To qualify the workers had to certify that they were unable to work because COVID-19.
How Long Did A Person Receive PUA Benefits?
The American Rescue Plan Act signed on March 11 2021 extended the maximum number of weeks from 50 to 79 weeks. The unemployment assistance benefits available through the American Rescue Plan Act expired on 4 September 2021 and since then no new application has been assessed for PUA.
What Is The Difference Between Unemployment Insurance And Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program?
Both PUA and UI provided financial assistance to workers who were unemployed or underemployed. PUA is time-limited to the end of the calendar year however UI does not provide these restrictions. In some cases, the UI would pay out higher unemployment benefits compared to regular state UI benefits.