Feb 26 | DOL expands PUA eligibility

The US Department of Labor has issued guidance expanding PUA eligibility!

From our inbox:

The new guidance expands eligibility to three categories of workers:

o Workers receiving unemployment benefits who had their continued regular unemployment benefits’ claims denied after they refused to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite not in compliance with Coronavirus health and safety standards.

o Workers who have been laid off, or had their work hours reduced as a direct result of the pandemic.

o School employees working without a contract or reasonable assurance of continued employment who face reduced paychecks and no assurance of continued pay when schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Here are a few considerations:

· The new COVID-19 related reasons are retroactive—they apply as if they had been included from the beginning of the PUA program. However, individuals filing their first initial PUA claim after December 27, 2020 are limited to weeks of unemployment beginning on or after December 6, 2020 Individuals must self-certify that they are unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of identified COVID-19 related reasons during the applicable time period.

· The guidance clarifies that an individual may be unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work for more than one COVID-19 related reason during any given week. This is important because workers certifying under one reason may think they no longer qualify when that reason is eliminated.

o For example, someone who left work to care for a child out of school may have been replaced at their old job when the child returns to school. That parent may believe that they are then no longer eligible for PUA benefits. However, this individual could also certify that they quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19 and they can continue to claim PUA benefits for their job loss.

· In support of the new guidance, states will receive up to $100,000 each to cover the start-up costs for this expansion including for any computer programming changes and sending notices to individuals who were previously denied PUA. States will also be provided time to update their systems to enable retroactive payment of PUA to eligible claimants as well as the funds to pay for the unemployment benefits.

o The department expects it may take states, who administer these programs, until, at least, the end of March to begin making payments under the expanded eligibility. States have different operating systems and processes. Some states may be able to implement these changes sooner than others.

The above is a direct paste from an email from the U.S. Department of Labor. For other questions please see their full guidance here. Implementation is, of course, done by each state individually, but this is the federal guidance they are supposed to follow.

If you need help with an individual claim our tips are at ExtendPUA.org/claimhelp

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