April 2, 2020
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is one of several new programs within the CARES Act.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance offers unemployment insurance coverage for workers who would previously be considered ineligible to receive regular unemployment benefits. It allows states to offer assistance to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers or who may not be otherwise covered under unemployment, who are unable to work due to COVID-19. Self-employed workers with an LLC or S Corporation also qualify.
PUA applicants are eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits, which are available retroactively starting with weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020, and ending on or before December 31, 2020.
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision of the CARES Act provides a supplemental $600 per week for individuals receiving unemployment benefits beginning March 29, 2020, through July 31, 2020. If a claim were filed prior to March 29, 2020, benefits would increase only for weeks filed after March 29, 2020.
PUA applicants are additionally eligible for the supplemental $600 a week available under the FPUC. Individuals will need to apply for PUA initially, and then they will be eligible for the supplemental $600 per week under FPUC. Individuals should defer to their state unemployment office to complete an application.
To qualify, individuals applying for PUA must:
- NOT be able to apply for regular unemployment
- NOT be able to telecommute or work from home
- BE able to or available to work, however, are unemployed or partially unemployed due to a COVID-19 related reason. Eligible reasons are listed below:
- You have a COVID-19 diagnosis
- You are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
- You are providing care for a child whose school or child-care facility that is not open
- Quarantine prevents you from reaching your place of employment
- A health care provider has advised you to self-quarantine
- You have quit your job as a result of a COVID-19 emergency
- Your place of employment is not open due to the COVID-19 emergency
- You were unable to start a new job due to COVID-19
For individuals that were unemployed and currently using unemployment benefits, PUA may also offer some additional benefit. Once regular unemployment insurance is exhausted, applicants can then apply for PUA.
PUA application is not currently available in Pennsylvania. Applications will supposedly be available on April 10, 2020. Individuals applying should expect a 2 – 3-week delay in receiving benefits payments, even with the one-week waiting period waived.
Individuals applying should have recent invoices charged to clients as documentation or support for the calculation of the weekly benefit.
**As of April 3, 2020, the additional $600 through FPUC has not been paid to applicants. Federal and state departments are still trying to get the process and cash flowing. Applicants should expect approximately an additional $10,000 in benefits. The $600 will be applied retroactively to claims filed on or after March 29, 2020**
A sample calculation of PUA is below:
The unemployment office calculates PUA Weekly benefits: $200 (using documentation, such as invoices or client payments). This amount is applicable for the weeks on or after January 27, 2020, and for 39 weeks following.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance weekly benefits offer a supplemental amount to individuals: $600 This amount is applicable for applicants ONLY for the weeks of March 27, 2020, through July 31, 2020
If the last date of employment was March 16, 2020, and the employee returns to work on September 1, the individual would be eligible for:
$200/week for the time period March 16 – March 27
$800/week for the weeks between March 27 – July 31
$200/week for the weeks between July 31 – September 1
Consider leaning on your Accountant for cash flow guidance, tax deadlines, completing SBA and CWCA loan applications, Family First tax credit calculations, and interpreting the CARES Act. Our accountants are available, and we have the knowledge, skill, and information that you need right now to address your financial needs in a timely fashion adequately.
Lindsay Gorman is a General Ledger Manager at Wilke & Associates, CPAs. She is an experienced financial accountant with expertise in accounting process development, implementation, and management, as well as month-end closing and financial statement preparation.