Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a federal unemployment program included in the CARES Act. PUA provides support for Americans who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but do not qualify for traditional Unemployment Insurance (UI).
How to Apply for PUA
Before you can apply for PUA, we are required to make sure you don't qualify for regular unemployment insurance. So, you need to first apply for
regular unemployment insurance.
If you already applied for regular unemployment insurance, and weren't eligible, you can then apply for PUA
online. You can also apply by calling IDES at (800) 244-5631.
Who can Apply for PUA?
Those individuals who usually can't get unemployment benefits may be able to get unemployment assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, you may be able to get PUA benefits if:
1. You were denied regular unemployment benefits.
Because eligibility for unemployment benefits is based on different laws, you may not qualify for regular benefits and still qualify for PUA.
2. You are self-employed, seeking part time employment, or do not have sufficient work history.
Self-employed workers can be gig workers, independent contractors, and/or business owners.
- Business owners
- Sole proprietors who do not pay unemployment contributions
- Workers who filed a Schedule C (Form 1040) tax form to report profit or loss from business
3. You work for an organization that does not pay unemployment insurance taxes.
Some organizations, like nonprofit religious organizations, don't have to pay unemployment insurance taxes. If you work for one of these organizations, you may be eligible for PUA.
4. You ran out of regular unemployment insurance or are otherwise not eligible for an extension.
Because of extensions to the regular unemployment insurance programs, it's unlikely that you would run out of benefits and then need to apply for PUA. Any regular or Extended Benefits you received will be deducted from the maximum number of weeks you can receive in PUA. However, if you've exhausted all weeks in the other programs, then you may be eligible for PUA benefits.
For example, if you voluntarily quit or were not able or available to work due to a COVID-19 related reason, you would not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. However, these same reasons would qualify you for PUA benefits.
Remember, to be eligible for PUA, you must be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of a COVID-19 reason allowed by federal law. For example, this could mean:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You have a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You are providing care to a household or family member diagnosed with COVID-19;
- You have primary caregiving responsibility for a child or other person who is unable to attend school or another facility as a result of COVID-19;
- You are unable to reach the place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
- You were scheduled to start work and do not have a job because of COVID-19; or
- You have become the major support for a household because the head of the household died because of COVID-19.
- You refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.
- You work for a school which is closed due to COVID-19.
- Your hours have been reduced or you were laid off as a direct result of COVID-19.
Tips for Applying