Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Filing Delays, Back Payments and Amount by State

The PUA program provides 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. To qualify for PUA benefits, you must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While PUA is open to all unemployed Americans, it was mainly intended as a way to provide unemployment benefits for those who were working and are now out of work and were generally self-employed (e.g. independent contractors or gig economy workers) and did not contribute taxes towards regular unemployment.

Delays in rolling out PUA program: State unemployment agencies and labor departments have experienced many challenges in rolling out the PUA program buy most are taking applications for individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation prior to new provision in the CARES stimulus bill. This group of workers however may have a hard time officially proving their wages during the applicable 2019-20 wage based period, in which case their weekly benefit amount will be reduced based on whichever is higher – the record of wages already on file or the minimum PUA weekly benefit amount for the state.

How to Apply for PUA

To apply for unemployment benefits using the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) extension provision approved under the CARES act you need to apply via your regular state’s unemployment agency. Many states have dedicated website links and call numbers when it comes to PUA benefits.

States have mandated that you must apply for regular UI and only apply for PUA when regular benefits are exhausted or if you were deemed not eligible for them – this will be the case for gig and contract workers. While it is a cause of concern for many unemployed Americans making new claims, it is the way their systems are designed to handle the new PUA coverage and provisions. So even though it may seem like the claim was denied in reality it just means that eligible claimants have been denied for standard unemployment benefits (in place prior to Coronavirus/COVID-19), but will likely qualify for the new PUA benefits.

The amount of PUA benefits are calculated based on your previously reported income and capped at the state’s maximum weekly benefit amount (WBA). PUA benefits may not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount as shown in the table below.

StateMaximum PUA Amount
Alabama$275
Alaska$370
Arizona$240
Arkansas$451
California$175
Colorado$618
Connecticut$649
Delaware$400
District of Columbia$444
Florida$275
Georgia$365
Hawaii$648
Idaho$448
Illinois$484
Indiana$390
Iowa$481
Kansas$488
Kentucky$552
Louisiana$247
Maine$445
Maryland$430
Massachusetts$823
Michigan$362
Minnesota$462
Mississippi$235
Missouri$320
Montana$552
Nebraska$440
Nevada$469
New Hampshire$427
New Jersey$713
New Mexico$511
New York$504
North Carolina$350
North Dakota$618
Ohio$480
Oklahoma$539
Oregon$648
Pennsylvania$572
Puerto Rico$190
Rhode Island$586
South Carolina$326
South Dakota$414
Tennessee$275
Texas$521
Utah$580
Vermont$513
Virginia$378
Washington$790
West Virginia$424
Wisconsin$370
Wyoming$508

Eligible recipients must certify for PUA benefits weekly like regular unemployment. Individuals receiving PUA will also still be eligible for the $600 FPUC weekly payments. Once they begin certifying for weekly benefits they will not have to take any additional steps, and will receive the weekly $600 payments along with their PUA benefits.

Below are some frequently asked questions and possible answers to common PUA questions I am seeing from readers on this site (see the comments below for more questions and answers).

How Long Does PUA Last in 2020?

For those who are eligible for regular benefits, they will get an additional 13 weeks on top of their state unemployment benefits. For those who don’t qualify for state unemployment they can get benefits for up to 39 weeks until the end of 2020.

Why was my PUA claim denied?

Most PUA claims that do finally get processed by the state unemployment department/agency are being denied or rejected because the claimant is eligible for standard, state-funded unemployment insurance rather than federally funded PUA. Because the PUA application process and/or link is different to the regular state unemployment application process, it is highly recommended you apply for regular state unemployment first. Only if you are denied for regular state UI (and you will be notified that you are) should you then apply for PUA.

Other reasons PUA claims are being denied are due to ongoing “glitches” in unemployment filing systems/websites that have required a lot more updates to support the new PUA provisions.

Fraud checks or additional document verification where many UI applications are being flagged has also been cited as a big reason for PUA delays/rejections. This is not surprising since may gig workers and contractors don’t have standard unemployment documentation and so require extra verification and fraud checks. If you are caught up in a fraud check, please ensure to provide the required information to your state agency (who will contact you) to keep your claim processing moving forward.

Will my PUA claim be paid retroactively for back payments (including the $600 FPUC)?

This varies across states, but generally if you were eligible for PUA in a given week that retroactive UI benefits are payable, you will get the relevant payment. Backdated payments will be paid in one lump-sum one to two weeks after you are deemed eligible for benefits. Note that backdated payments will also include the $600 FPUC payment if you were eligible for PUA during the period the FPUC program was active.

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73 thoughts on “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Filing Delays, Back Payments and Amount by State

  1. I have had transaction numbers for all of my back pay weeks since 6/17, I recieved my debit card last Thursday with 2 weeks issued. I also received last weeks pay yesterday. But no back pay. Shouldn’t I have recieved those first. I am in pa.

    1. According to PA gov site, “Approved claimants should get lump sum payments within 1 week of filing. Weekly certifications MUST be filed every week to continue receiving payments….. Individuals can file backdated claims for previous eligible weeks now and the first payment will arrive within one week or less. PUA claimants can file their weekly certification and payment will arrive within three business days.

      So yes you should have gotten your payment, assuming you certified and not issues with your claim.

      If you have certified and no payment you need to contact them. Currently, questions about your claims should be emailed to UCPUA@pa.gov. You should expect to receive a response within 7 days. This email address is for PUA questions only and more likely to get a response than calling.

      Also see the PA dedicated UI page I have setup – https://www.savingtoinvest.com/pennsylvania-pa-department-of-labor-and-industry-additional-600-fpuc-and-pua-benefits/

  2. I recently filed for ui i recieved 2 weeks of ui and 600 included of pua. Was wondering if i would qualify for a retro since ive been unemployed since januarary. Could i backdate all the way to nanuary and recieve all those weeks of backpay?

  3. I live in Nevada regular UI did not qualify or so they said filed PUA no problem but it is in prosses and i hear some people have been waiting months in process then i get a letter in the mail from regular UI saying i can appeal thats nuts , I really dont think they know whats going on or how to apply the UI PUA laws and I KNOW they are short handed wish me luck.

  4. If I got approved on the 3rd of June and got my card on the 12th when should I be getting paid for pua?

  5. My claim was accepted through pa pua , i received my debit card 2 days ago and onky 2 weeks of payments were issued. I have 13 weeks back pay due. Wouldnt thst have been issued at that time also.. i am very worried. Please help.

    1. How long from the time you applied to the time you received payment? I’m a little worried because I’ve applied and I’ve received the card however, none of the claims has been paid out.

  6. my business started 1/5/2020, which provides maintenances to businesses that have plants that need to be cared for. however due to shut downs my services are temporarily halted. I’ve gone from $4000 monthly to almost 0. do I qualify for PUA?

    1. Yes. But to qualify for PuA your loss of income must be tied to the CoVid crisis or inline with your state unemployment agency requirements. The eligibility rules are quite open so make sure you select or answer accordingly to get PUA

  7. Does anyone know if they have extended the $600 or will extend it past the July 31 deadline? Remember they have shut down more stuff & phases have been dropped even in FL for Corona re-openings. I am assuming they gave the $600 a week till July 31 thinking it would be over. Any word if they will extend it? Also my wife who was self employed didnt qualify for FL but got an email today that she qualified for Gov’t PUA. ITs less than FL, but 600 week will be Retro’d? She has been out of work since March. IS that True? Meaning she should get an avg of 2400 for March, April May an June in 1 lump sum retro besides the PUA $ and 600 week for July? Sorry for asking 2 questions. Thanks

  8. Kentucky here. I am an independent contractor and 2/1/2020 lost all income due to COVID-19. I tried every day to call every number I could find, emailed every address, but never got guidance on what the procedures were going to be insofar as PUA was concerned. In KY, you have to be denied regular UI benefits before you can be considered eligible for PUA. Didn’t get to file my UI claim until 4/23/2020. There were not many references to PUA that I could research the proper steps to take while I was waiting for my UI claim to be denied. So, I waited. After a few weeks, I found a letter directed to PUA claimants instructing them/us to self-certify our loss of employment due to COVID-19, for the weeks of January 27 thru May 9 2020. So, I went ahead and submitted these documents. No one from the UI office would call me back or email me, nothing. It wasn’t until I emailed Governor Andy Beshear and requested his help in the matter. Within a week my claim status changed from UI to PUA and a worker called me to say she was gonna get me paid, but that I had “missed some weeks requesting my benefits”. She emailed me 4 pay cards but they were only for the weeks of 4/25/2020 thru 6/13/20 (8 weeks of benefits). On my Account Summary page it says my “effective date” is January 27, 2020, so shouldn’t I have been paid for the weeks of 2/8/20 thru 4/18/20 – since I had already sent the self-certification documents in that covered those weeks? I have, once again, emailed the DOL, Gov. Beshear, along with many others, just trying to get answers. Gov. Beshear publically stated Kentuckians would be paid retroactive benefits even though they were late filing their claim. Help!!! Any suggestions?

  9. I live in Mississippi, but worked out of state in 2019. I was informed that I should file in last state I worked in 2019, which was Alaska. I filed for regular unemployment and was denied. I6/, then filed a PUA claim showing the income I received in Alaska, Virginia and Texas. I have received a payment of 133.00 per week and also the 600.00 per week from 4/5/2020 thru 6/20/2020. I received a message today from State of Alaska that due to me working in others states that could not receive further payments. This is very confusing. All income from the other states was provided
    making this a multi state claim. Would it not be fraud to file in each state? It was my understanding that the other states were contacted to obtain the unemployment amount. So now, what do I do?? I am supposed to get the 600.00 per week through July 25, 2020 according to my determination letter. Who I can I contact that understands about multi state claim? Also, I didn’t even receive half of the maximum PUA allowed by the State of Alaska. Therefore, I am now assuming that the other states were not even considered. I need some clarification of how this is supposed to work. I spent the day attempting to talk with someone in Alaska without success.

  10. i live in new mexico i applied for PUA i just got through i only have got payed for 2 weeks but doesnt show back dated weeks and been out of work since march 23 how could i get retroactive pay been calling and it just been busy.. any help

  11. The pua weekly certification has yes or no questions that I answered for a total of 14 retroactive weeks. they sent me a message that my claims were pending because I answered no to the covid-19 questions. Like, Are you unable to work because you have to take care of a family member who has it?. Or, are you unable to work because you have been exposed to the virus? Am I suppose to answer yes to these questions or am I interpreting them wrong

    1. I think you need to go back and reread all the questions. Make sure you are answering the question. I misread a statement that said “non-covid” as covid related. Take your time.

  12. I am in NC. I applied for UI on 3/22. It was in pending status until today. The notice says that I will receive $132.00 per week. I don’t understand. I am self employed and made over $100K yearly before the pandemic. I also would like to know if I will receive the $600/weekly. Where can I go to find out.

    1. Im self employed and make about half of what you do and they are saying $132 for me also. I don’t know if mine it approved yet though. I sure hope we get the extra $600. How do you know when it is approved?

    2. UI is not your wages, it’s a portion. That’s where the $600 a week comes in. UI & PUA are both eligible for the Cares Act supplement until 7/25.

    3. UI is not your wages, it’s a portion. That’s where the $600 a week comes in. UI & PUA are both eligible for the Cares Act supplement until 7/25.

    4. It is confusing because I’ve read that self employed get the flat rate of $176 weekly; but I’ve also read that if you submit ur 2019 tax return, they will base ur weekly benefit on ur previous years income.The Department of Labor for Kentucky is probably your best place to go. They issue guidance to KCC on how to interpret the CARES Act in regards to UI and PUA benefits. Hope you have better luck than I have.

    5. Im having this same problem in Arkansas. I applied for regular unemployment and got my notice of monetary determination from them based on 2019 income and it stated 451$ would be my weekly benefit. I ultimately was denied regular and applied for PUA at same time ( Mid May) knowing I would be denied regular. Now I’m approved for PUA but only for 132$ plus the 600$. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be 451$ as was determined by regular unemployment. I’ve already been paid the 732$ for 6 retro weeks but it should have been 1051$. Not sure if that will ever be corrected.

  13. I live in Illinois and I have now exhausted my UI and the 13 weeks of extended PEUC. My benefits were connected to a full time job were I was laid off a year ago. I then worked part-time from an employer in 2019 making only $2300 and received a W-2. I have a self-employed gig as art instructor. In 2019, I made only $4034. Both of my part-time and gig jobs are now gone because of COVID-19. Am I eligible for PUA? It says the minimum for consideration is $1600. I read that I may be able to receive PUA if I have exhausted my IU and the PEUC.
    I still can’t find a decent job and now my side income is gone due to COVID. help!

  14. I was denied regular unemployment. Never received a letter in mail or a link to file PUA. I live in
    ALABAMA.

    1. Search (PUA & your state) PUA Alabama & you should find the link for your state to begin filing. Payment is retroactive but you have to file each week individually so you want to start before the 39th week :)

    2. you may not receive a link. Go to Apply for pandemic Unemployment on your government website for the state of Alabama and file there. you should have no issues. Click on Apply for pandemic unemployment.

  15. go the the check my claim status option click on it and type ss and pin then scroll to bottom where it says request weekly pua thats where you have to certify all dates to receive money i had the same issue they did not tell me that it was different from regular certification then you will receive all checks at one time you have to put each date every say since unemployment began for you

  16. I live in NC and applied for UI back on March 27 and was denied and told to wait until the PUA system was available on April 27. I applied for PUA then (4/27) and my status has been pending since. Each week I check my status, update my weekly certification, and talk with a state PUA rep. They say the only thing I can do is wait since I have provided all the necessary documentation. Does this seem typical? Anyone else in NC waiting this long?

    1. In NC and other states, the processing of valid PUA claims seems to be taking much longer than anticipated. The good news is that you should get your benefit paid retroactively when it is finally processed.

    2. I applied on 3/22 and I too was pending for all of that time. I received notice today that I am approved.

  17. can i apply for pandiemic unemployment . if i have applied for ssi and is pending approval i have no other income

    1. You can apply, but you will need to provide evidence of income in the past year and you must NOT be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  18. I applied for pua in PA. I was approved and the websites says funds were paid out on 06/15/2020. I set up direct deposit. The funds aren’t in my account. I called the bank in which PA administers debit card. The bank says no debit card has been issued to me yet. So where is my money. Can anyone give me an idea

    1. How long was the process in PA from the time you applied to 6/15 when the website said funds were paid. I applied recently and was trying to get an idea of the timeframe. Thanks in advance.

    2. Hi you will receive a check first probably for around $11,000 if you put all the weeks through going back to March when the pandemic first hit. But yes you should receive a check any day.

    3. Same Boat. I filled 6/18/2020 Direct Deposit. Waited for response, told to change to Debit Card Option, PUA no longer doing DD for safety measures, that was appox. a wk later 6/29/2020. Still nothing yet. This info was passed on to me by other people who got theirs. Funny thing about it, I filled mine weeks before them.

  19. I live in NY. I applied for PUA last Thursday. Since I’m self-employed I didn’t think I could do this. I have been out of work since March due to the pandemic. I received my payment for week ending 06/14/2020 along with the 600 dollars. I wasn’t able to certify for the weeks in between. When should I see the retroactive pay? According to their website my effective date is 03/16/2020. Will the 600 dollars also be retroactive? Thanks.

  20. I am from Georgia and I filed a claim and received a claim # due to being laid off from two jobs because of the pandemic. They e-mailed instructions to report each week on Sunday like normal claim. I did this and have not heard from them since. I have called my claim center numerous times but can only leave a phone # and message. My call is never returned. I reported in for week ending 6/6/20 and still have not received my check. They said I would receive just one check then they would decide after that if I qualified for any more. That has been 1 – 1/2 weeks ago and I have not received my first check

    1. Per other comments on the GA page, looks like you are seeing the same issue many others are seeing. Be patient and your payments (if you certified and were eligible) will be paid.

    2. I am so sorry. There are so many in this situation. I have been laid off since 4/20 did not qualify for Unemployment. Finally found out how to apply for PUA was approved a month ago and have filed for back weeks to current and have received nothing, not even a notification of when if or how I will receive it. Georgia

    1. Historically, workers’ compensation provides benefits to individuals who are hurt on the job. Workers who take time off because of an injury remain employed, and thus are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits. Instead, income replacement comes from worker’s compensation, which typically covers two-thirds of a worker’s average income while they are out. Given the pandemic, however, some states are amending their current workers’ compensation statutes to create a presumption that certain workers who fall ill with Coronavirus contracted the disease at work. In certain cases, such as first responders, front line health care workers dealing with Covid-19 patients, and government employees who cannot do their jobs without interacting with large numbers of at-risk populations, this presumption makes sense.

      However if your WC was not related to COVID reasons then getting the PUA will be a challenge based on the above

  21. I filed for PUA and being informed that I am eligible, when will the PUA Payments start ?

    1. My application was approved on 6/1/2020, I have been completing the weekly work status. I have received the letter from The Virginina Employment Commission stating I would receive $158 weekly plus 1/2 of the $600 PUA
      As of today 6/17/2020 I have not received a payment. I have called every number that is listed and can never get through to a human being to ask why I have not received payments.

      What should I do, Please help I need the PUA payments.

      1. Under you benefit payment details does each payment have a transaction # listed ? If so your payment should be coming soon I wouldn’t worry.

    2. You need to file for each week beginning from the start of your unemployment or when you were unable to apply for employment. Once you file each weekly certification payment will be issued after threat. I would advise filing each week ASAP you should receive a debit card in the mail and the payments will be loaded to the card first with a lump sum then each week will be loaded your weekly benefit as well as the extra $600

  22. Florida – I was furloughed on 4/23.. Immediately applied for unemployment benefits….still haven’t received UI or the weekly $600 from federal. I check on CONNECT…StillActive/approved. nobody has anwers to when I will receive my $275 weekly and my $600 owed to me since 4/23/2020.
    I’m drowning in bills, rent, car payment, etc…who can I reach out to Regarding the weekly $600 ????

  23. My brother, an independent contractor in Illinois, applied for PUA on 6/2. How soon can he expect to get an approval or denial from PUA?

      1. I applied on 6/12 and received an email dated 6/15 saying I’m eligible. I already had the bank card from previous ui how long will it take to get paid

        1. No updates. I was on the phone (on hold) from 7:15 am til 12:15pm and the line got disconnected! Story of my life. I’ve called and texted everyone I know and emailed everyone all the way up to Governor Beshear. No luck.

  24. Is there a contact number or website or email for this 600 check issue. It seems mine have stopped. My Unemployment office has washed their hands and said they don’t handle the Cares Act portion. Also, don’t provide guidance as to who to direct inquiries

  25. I have been filing unemployment since April 4th with regular UI put was not getting any payment but when I file for the PUA UI for Maryland I was seeing some payment put for May only. I just got my card and payments for the two weeks of May with out the extra $600 from Federal and none of my missing payments for April was not paid to me on my card. Where my missing payments for April and the also the extra $600 from federal as promised with this PUA UI program. If just frustrating and disappointing during this terrible pandemic.

  26. I have been collecting PUA and FPUC since I registered on April 3rd and April 10th respectively, only finally getting the retroactive pay on May 8th. Now on May 19th, I received a message from my employer we are to reopen on May 19th. I got the OK to start on May 25th. Here’s my situation: I only work 5 days each week for 14.5 hours per week and collect partial Social Security. How will this affect my PUA and FPUC? I think I’ll be exempt from the PUA but will I still get the FPUC $600 or only part of that? I live in New York State.

  27. In Delaware the PUA website is not even working yet in order to apply for the unemployment… has anybody heard when will this page be available?

    1. I applied over a week ago. I had trouble the first few times I tried to get on the site though.

  28. My husband’s hours were reduced to 24 hours per week. We opened a CA UI-online account and submitted a claim. It came back as $0.00 benefit due to excessive earnings. My understanding is that he should qualify for PUA,however, There isn’t anywhere for him to apply, file a new claim or open a new claim. How would he apply for this? Additionally, not one documented phone number has live people to answer a question.

  29. I am a single mom working as an substitute teacher I lost my job because school closed for the pandemic virus since march. I tried many times to apply for unemployment however I got through this week all I get is $150.00 per week not even the minimum and no additional $600,00 PUA what should I do? I have two children also,

    1. I am a substitute in PA who worked nearly every day, and I received PUA benefits. You should too, I encourage you to call and explain, keep calling.

      1. Not sure if this will help but i am relatives in michigan and Georgia , and Georgia has 2 systems the pua system to file a claim and the other system the regular to file a claim, maybe theirs is like Georgia, michigan added the pua with their regular system and its actually easier in michigan to file for the pua benefit very fast turnaround , hopefully that helps

    2. Please apply for TANF and the Pandemic Food Assistance Program. In Florida, the input is made by the school’s cafeteria personnel. The card will in the name of the older child, but the benefits will funded for both children if they are of school age and received free or reduced meals. If they are not of school age, you can apply for regular food assistance for the entire family.

  30. I have been out of work since March 27, 2020 and I have not received any unemployment(PUA) or FPUC as of yet. I did receive notice that I should receive a payment this week. Will I be getting retro pay for the length of time that I didn’t receive benefits? If I find a job before I receive my retro pay, will I still qualify for it? Why is it that I’m receiving less than $600 for FPUC? I not complaining, however, I just want what is rightly owed to me so that I can pay the people that carried me and my family for so long as well as to obtain clarity on the situation.

    1. You should be getting retro pay and yes, if you get a job you still get pay for the time all the way up to when you get the job. Just stop certifying when you get the job.

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