Hard times have fallen upon millions of Americans during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, and it hasn't gotten any easier for most...myself included. But rest assured, I am here to help anyone who is still trying to receive their benefits. Most people are unaware of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), whether they are eligible, and how to apply. Most don't know they can apply and are potentially eligible because PUA was created for self-employed people, contract workers, gig workers, and people who have been directly affected by COVID. Individuals who work for a company apply for UI benefits, and that's it. What is unknown is that if you are found ineligible for regular unemployment and are out of work as a result of the virus, you may be eligible for PUA. With that being said, this post is to help those individuals apply & receive benefits if you have not been able to qualify for regular unemployment.
HOW TO APPLY
***Applying for benefits may vary per state. Please visit your state's online department of unemployment, employment & workforce, whichever applies to find further information regarding the application process for PUA. I will be sharing how to apply for benefits in the state of South Carolina.
IMPORTANT THINGS KNOW
What is PUA?
PUA is unemployment assistance for the self-employed, contractor, gig worker, those who file a 1099, individuals who are ineligible for any other state or federal unemployment benefits and who are unemployed, unable to work or unavailable to work as a direct result of COVID-19.
Am I Eligible?
If you have been deemed monetarily ineligible for regular Unemployment Insurance, it may be because you filed your claim as self-employed, contractor, gig worker, or someone who files a 1099. Please understand that the funding for which you may be eligible does not come from state resources. What that means is, you will receive notification that you have been denied state unemployment insurance benefits.
This is the first step in the process to receive federal funds coming from the CARES Act. You are still potentially eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which is provided through this Act for individuals who were not previously eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are eligible under PUA, the benefits will be paid retroactively.
**If you have already appealed the denial of benefits, the system will dismiss the appeal so that you can proceed with the PUA process when your state agency notifies you.
Before you BEGIN...
If you already have a UI (unemployment insurance) claim on file that is monetarily ineligible or meets the criteria to file for PUA, you will have a File Pandemic Unemployment Assistance link on your Customer Menu on the online portal.
If you do not see a File Pandemic Unemployment Assistance link on your Customer Menu, you will need to start a new claim application.
STEP 1: GETTING STARTED
Login to your claimant account.
Click on the Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance smart link.
The PUA claim process will ask you the following questions:
Is your unemployment a direct result of COVID-19? Yes or No
Were you working full time? Yes or No. If No, the system requires you to enter your average hours worked and the customary hours of your last occupation.
Are you receiving Personal Injury Insurance? Yes or No.
STEP 2: ACKNOWLEDGMENT
You will be required to check the acknowledgment box that you are applying for PUA benefits and click Next.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION
The PUA Eligibility section will be at the bottom of the Summary screen. You must click Next to complete the application process.
STEP 4: FACT FINDING
You must complete the Dynamic Fact Finding (DFF) associated with the PUA Eligibility issue on the Fact Finding screen by clicking the Provide Additional Information link.
The DFF is where the system gathers all of the information to determine if you are eligible for PUA so it is important that you complete it.
After the PUA Eligibility DFF is completed, you will receive a confirmation number. Your Claimant Homepage will display your PUA claim information.
STEP 5: CONFIRMATION
After the PUA Eligibility DFF is completed, you will receive a confirmation number.
Your Claimant Homepage will display your PUA claim information.
After you complete these steps, your claim should say pending until it is reviewed by an agent. It should take 7-14 business days to process your claim. In the event additional information needs to be gathered, your claim's processing time could take longer.
HOW TO RECEIVE BENEFITS
I want to share my personal experience with applying & receiving my PUA benefits. Let's say it wasn't easy for me. Some individuals apply & have no issues getting their payments each week. That wasn't the case for me. I had to wait for my benefits for over a month. I didn't think it would take that long because I didn't have any issues when I was laid off my job in late March. I didn't know that the state doesn't fund PUA & I had to submit required documents that I didn't have to send the first time I claimed regular unemployment.
There are differences between UI benefits & PUA benefits. I suggest doing your research to become familiar with the differences so you'll know how to handle an issue if it comes up.
The Keys to Receiving Benefits without Delay:
STEP 1: COMPLETING APPLICATION ACCURATELY
Make sure you read each question and answer to the best of your knowledge.
Certify each week, even if you haven't received anything yet
You will be back paid from every week you certified.
STEP 2: CLEAR ANY ISSUES DELAYING PAYMENT
Submit ALL supporting documents that will help your claim get processed in a timely fashion.
After you have submitted those documents and you still see Issues Delaying Payment, you then will need to call the unemployment office.
STEP 3: CALL YOUR UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE
If you aren't seeing any changes to your claim, call your unemployment office until changes are made.
Call EVERY DAY if necessary!
DO NOT STOP until you get your payments.
Every time you call, you'll speak with someone different. More than likely that agent will tell you something different which can help speed things up.
STEP 4: NEVER GIVE UP
If you give up, you'll never get your payments. Unfortunately, some people may not have a choice depending on their situation & I completely understand. For those of you that have a little wiggle room, I suggest you follow these steps and not deal with headaches & frustration.
For more information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, please visit your state's online unemployment and apply TODAY.
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