As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic. The provisions of the program once operational include:
- Up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 31, 2020, depending on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
- An additional $600 to each PUA weekly benefit amount you may be eligible to receive, as part of the separate CARES Act Pandemic Additional Compensation program. Only the weeks of a claim between March 29 and July 31 are eligible for the extra $600 payments.
Note: Because this is a brand new program, each state will need time to develop all of the necessary system programming, forms, processes, and procedures. This page will be updated as information becomes available, including when and how to apply for these benefits. Once this new complex program is built and staffed, it will likely rival the size of the regular UI program the EDD already administers.
As we work to implement this new program, you can:
- Review the eligibility requirements the federal government has prescribed in order to receive these federally paid benefits.
- Contact your local America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM where EDD staff work with local partners to provide employment assistance. You could be eligible for Supportive Services funding to help you with basic needs.
The PUA benefits are payable if you don’t qualify for regular UI benefits in California or another state and also do not qualify for State Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave benefits. This includes:
- Business owners
- Self-employed individuals
- Independent contractors
- Individuals who may have qualified for regular UI benefits but have collected all benefits for which they are eligible.
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you cannot be paid PUA benefits unless you were legally permitted to work in the United States at the time such services were performed. In addition, you must be authorized to work for any week of PUA benefits claimed to be eligible for payments.
You must also meet one of the following criteria:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
- You are unable to work because a health care provider advised you to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- A child or other person in the household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 and the school or facility care is required for you to work.
- You became the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You have to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
- You were scheduled to start a job that is now unavailable as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- You are unable to reach the place of employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- If you work as an independent contractor with reportable income, you may also qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work because the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited your ability to continue performing your customary work activities, and has thereby forced you to stop working.
When to File a Claim
The EDD is sorting through details from the U.S Department of Labor as to how they want this complex program to work in issuing payments that the federal government will be funding. We have a dedicated team working around the clock with state partners to build this new program as quickly as possible. This page will be updated with instructions for filing a claim for PUA benefits when details become available.
If you are unsure if you are an independent contractor or an employee who could be eligible for benefits, file for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits and we will determine your eligibility.
After you have filed, refer to our step-by-step UI claims process. You’ll learn what to expect and the actions you need to take through the course of your claim for receiving benefit payments as long as you’re eligible.
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