Yesterday, Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier provided an update on the recent Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance implementations in Pennsylvania. Both programs, which expired at the end of December, resumed as part of the new federal CARES Act extensions.
“We have begun making PEUC and PUA payments to the Pennsylvanians who are out-of-work because of the pandemic and need these benefits,” said Berrier. “And while we know that payments were issued to many claimants over the past four days, we are also aware that some people have encountered issues. We understand the frustration of the claimants who’ve been waiting for their payments to resume – we are frustrated too and are working to make it right. Our team resolved the PEUC issue last evening and is identifying and fixing PUA issues as quickly as we can. We will provide regular PUA updates until the issues are resolved.”
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
Nearly 115,000 PEUC program payments have been issued since Sunday, the day the program reopened. Claimants can file for the 11 additional weeks provided by the extension, which is on top of 13 weeks provided in the original CARES Act. The PEUC program adds a total of 24 weeks to the number of eligible weeks a claimant has through the regular Unemployment Compensation program.
L&I identified and fixed the issue experienced by PEUC claimants who were not being offered claim weeks since they last filed for benefits on Dec. 26.
PEUC claimants should now be able to file and should email firstname.lastname@example.org if they experience additional issues with their claims.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
L&I reopened the PUA program on Friday. Since then, claimants have filed close to 420,000 weeks for the program, which assists workers who are not eligible for regular UC, such as gig workers, freelancers and self-employed workers.
L&I has received reports of a variety of issues with filing PUA claims, including:
– Slow website or website pages that fail to load: This is caused by a high amount of website traffic. On Monday, L&I implemented a “waiting room” for claimants attempting to enter the PUA website during high traffic periods, which has prevented issues with the PUA website becoming overwhelmed.
– You are notified to reopen your claim even though you previously filed for the week of Dec. 26: These claimants should follow the directions to reopen their claim which can be found in the “Latest News and Announcements” widget on their dashboard.
– You self-identified as a permanent resident: This has been occurring since November and is unrelated to the new CARES Act extension. These claimants will not receive benefits until L&I verifies their work status. If you haven’t done so already, you should upload your permanent resident/visa information to your dashboard. If you have answered this question incorrectly and are a U.S. citizen, and haven’t already done so, upload your birth certificate, passport or information to show your citizenship status.
– You filed for four weeks on Jan. 24 but only received one payment: This issue is related to a recalculation of your balance. As of now, these claimants will not need to refile for the weeks ending Jan. 2, 9 or 16, because L&I will process the filed claims once the issue is corrected.
– You tried to file before the PUA program reopened on Jan. 22 and clicked a link labeled “COVID-19-2” causing your claim to appear inactive: The issues caused by early filing attempts have been fixed on most claims and will continue to be fixed.
L&I said it’s working quickly to correct these issues and will provide regular updates on social media and at dli.pa.gov. PUA claimants should email email@example.com if they experience issues with their claims, and provide as much detail as possible about the problem.
Claimants in the PEUC and PUA programs had been unable to file for claims ending after Dec. 26 due to the federal government failing to finalize the extension of the federal CARES Act until Dec. 27 and the federal Department of Labor not providing guidance needed for Pennsylvania to ensure it was complying with federal law when making payments until Jan. 11. L&I then needed time to complete recoding of its computer systems to account for changes in federal law.
Visit uc.pa.gov for more information.