Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
October 07, 2021
The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program ended in Georgia with week ending June 26, 2021.
However, claimants may be eligible for reconsideration of a denied PUA claim based on expanded allowable reasons provided by the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 (Continued Assistance Act). PUA is only payable for weeks in which an individual is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable because of COVID-19. If a claimant did not initially meet the eligibility requirements in effect when he/she applied, they could potentially now apply for reconsideration based on the provisions of the Continued Assistance Act. A claimant's eligibility for reconsideration is based upon the effective date of the initial PUA claim. A link to the reconsideration application will be placed in a claimant's My UI portal ONLY IF he/she is potentially eligible for reconsideration. The claimant would select Apply for Reconsideration of Denied PUA Eligibility to submit his/her application. Once the application is processed, the claimant will receive information providing next step instructions.
If a claimant is determined to be allowed PUA benefits, he/she cannot be paid for any week ending after June 26, 2021, the end date of the Georgia PUA program.
Any person who knowingly makes a false statement or misrepresentation or who knowingly fails to disclose a material fact in order to obtain or increase benefits for which you are not entitled shall be considered to have committed fraud and will be subject to criminal prosecution.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
The PUA program provided unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them for up to 79 weeks. This includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. Effective June 27, 2021, the state of Georgia is no longer participating in the PUA program. The last payable week ending date for PUA benefits was June 26, 2021.
Step 1: Individual files a regular state unemployment claim. A claimant will receive 2 emails - one stating that the claim was received and another stating the claim was processed.
Step 2: Individual receives a Benefits Determination letter, which shows if a claimant has enough wages to determine a valid regular state unemployment claim. If so, an individual receives a second determination letter (Claims Examiner's Determination) informing the claimant if state benefits are approved or denied.
Step 3: Individuals not eligible to receive state unemployment benefits receive notification by email with a link to the application or will find a link to the PUA application in their My UI portal.
Step 4: Individual completes the PUA application and submits for processing. An email is sent confirming processing of the application and informing the applicant of the date when he/she can begin certifying for benefits. The email also contains a link for certifying and provides a secure email address to send employment and wage documentation for Tax Year January 1 to December 31, 2019. Applicants need to certify (request payment) for all eligible weeks since the closing of their business due to COVID-19. A weekly determination amount is decided and the claimant receives a PUA Benefits Determination letter in the mail stating the weekly benefit amount. If an applicant is able to establish a valid claim, he/she receives a PUA Claims Examiner's Determination letter informing the claimant if benefits are approved or denied.
The GDOL modified its current online unemployment application adding new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for PUA. These individuals must be determined not eligible for state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits. If a claimant receives at least one dollar in federal PUA benefits, they will be eligible for the weekly $300 supplement as part of the Continued Assistance Act and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Applicants are asked to provide documentation to prove wages. The past wages used to establish your PUA claim may use income not normally covered by regular state unemployment, such as contract labor or self-employment earnings.
Acceptable Proof of Wages/Income Used for PUA Claims
- Proof of wages/income for the most recently completed Tax Year January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
- If you are an employee or 1099 independent contractor, you can send copies of pay stubs, earning statements, IRS Form W-2 or IRS Form 1099 and federal income tax Form 1040 and Schedule C, F, or SE.
- If you are self-employed, you can send IRS Form 1040 and a copy of Schedule 1, 2, C, F or SE tax return.
Claimants must reapply for UI benefits at the end of their benefit year (BYE). A UI claim lasts 52 weeks. At the end of the benefit year, PUA claimants must reapply for regular UI and be denied before being placed back in the PUA program.
CAA Federal Requirement for Proof of Employment/Self-employment and Wages
The Continued Assistance Act of 2020 requires individuals who received PUA benefits on or after 12/27/2020 to provide proof of employment/self-employment or a valid offer to begin employment along with proof of wages. The deadline to upload proof into your My UI portal is 08/06/21.
What documents are acceptable proof of employment and wages?
- Proof of employment includes, but is not limited to: W-2 forms, paycheck stubs and earnings, leave statements that show the employer’s name and address, 2019 and 2020 IRS Form 1040, and a copy of Schedule C, Schedule F, or Schedule SE tax return as applicable, 2019 and 2020 State Income tax return as applicable.
- Proof of employment with organizations such as Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and educational or religious non-profit organizations includes, but is not limited to: documentation from the organizations or signed affidavit by an individual (with name and contact information) verifying your attachment to such organizations.
What document(s) are acceptable proof of self-employment and wages?
- Proof of self-employment includes, but is not limited to: 2019 and 2020 IRS Form 1040 and a copy of Schedule C, Schedule F, or Schedule SE tax return as applicable, 2019 and 2020 State Income tax return as applicable, 1099 documentation, state or federal employer identification numbers, business licenses, contracts for services, business receipts/invoices, sales records, and invoices.
What document(s) are acceptable proof of an offer of employment?
- For individuals who were offered employment but were not able to start the job, proof includes, but is not limited to, a letter from the company offering the work or a signed affidavit by an individual (with name and contact information) verifying the offer of employment.
What document(s) are acceptable proof of self-employment set to start?
- For individuals who were starting self-employment but were not able to start the job, proof includes, but is not limited to, property titles or deeds for the place of employment, rental lease agreement, business registration documents, state or federal employer identification numbers, and an assumed name certificate.
What document(s) are acceptable proof that your employment is affected by COVID-19?
- Documentation from the employer indicating you are unemployed or under employed as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Proof your employment was affected by COVID-19 includes, but is not limited to, a letter from the company or employer where services were performed or a signed affidavit by an individual (with name and contact information) verifying work ended, decreased, or changed due to COVID-19.