Press release, Public health
Governor Tom Wolf announced today that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) is implementing new federal unemployment benefits provided by the Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). The COVID-19 relief program temporarily provides an additional $ 600 per week, makes self-employed workers, independent contractors and concert workers eligible for benefits, and extends unemployment benefits (UC) for an additional 13 weeks.
Federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefits, which account for about half of a person’s full-time weekly income, up to $ 572 per week for 26 weeks.
$ 600 extra per week
Under the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are expanded to provide an additional $ 600 per week beginning the week ending April 4, 2020 and ending July 25, 2020. This temporary emergency benefit increase is called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC).
Today, L&I issued the first payments of $ 600. All eligible applicants who have submitted biweekly applications for the week ending April 4 and who have received their regular CU payment should expect to see additional money Tuesday or Wednesday next week. For other eligible applicants who have not yet received a regular CU payment, they will receive the additional $ 600 the week after receiving their first CU payment.
It is very important to note that anyone who currently has federal source deductions from their benefits will see the same 10% reduction in the CUPF payment, resulting in a payment of $ 540. For more information on changing your deduction choice, see the L&I Employee Taxes page.
The $ 600 is paid separately from the UC benefit every two weeks, and residents do not need to apply.
See the FPUC Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Freelancers, entrepreneurs or workers in the gig economy
The CARES law also temporarily makes unemployment benefit available to the self-employed, independent entrepreneurs, concert economy workers and other people who are not normally eligible for the benefit. The program is called Unemployment Pandemic Assistance (PUA). These workers cannot apply through the department’s online UC system at this time. The United States Department of Labor requires that PUAs be tracked separately from ordinary CUs. For this reason, Pennsylvania must create a new online platform to address the benefits of PUAs.
Eligible individuals should be able to start applying for PUA benefits within the next two weeks. Eligible applicants will receive backdated payments as of January 27, 2020 or the first week that they were unable to work due to COVID-19, whichever date is later. The PUA benefit will end on December 31, 2020. The ministry will announce when the PUA benefit request will be available.
See the L&I PUA Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Benefits extended by 13 weeks
The CARES law provides for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefit, including for workers who exhaust their regular unemployment benefits. Applicants will be eligible for emergency pandemic unemployment benefit (PEUC) for the week beginning March 29, 2020 until the end of the year. The Department is awaiting additional federal guidance on the program and will provide an update when information becomes available.
Additional information for workers affected by COVID-19:
On March 27, Governor Tom Wolf signed a law that makes it easier to access unemployment benefit claims by waiving the week-long waiting period to apply, as well as the research requirements employment and work registration, among other changes.
See the Commonwealth Responding to COVID-19 guide for the latest Pennsylvanian guidelines and resources or the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s coronavirus web page for the latest COVID-19 information.