Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

(Not Otherwise Eligible for Regular UI)

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Last updated on 9/10/2021 at 9:00 am

The deadline to apply for PUA is October 6, 2021. If you apply for UI by October 6, 2021 and are denied UI, your deadline to apply for PUA is extended to 21 days after your UI denial determination is mailed. The last week payable under the PUA program is the week ending September 4, 2021, UI week 36/21.

Visit https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com to find resources to help you with your job search.

Quarter Change Notice: As of July 4, 2021, if you are receiving PUA or PEUC you may see an issue "Under Review" on your Determinations page. At the start of each calendar quarter, federal law requires DWD to check whether federal program recipients qualify for regular UI. This quarterly check requires manual review and can take a few weeks to complete. If this applies to you, please continue filing your initial and/or weekly claims as prompted in your portal.

For help using online services, or if you are unable to go online, call the PUA Hotline at (608) 318-7100. The hotline is available from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. This hotline is to help you complete your PUA application and provide general information related to the PUA program only. If you are calling for any reason other than PUA, your question will not be answered; call the Claimant Assistance Line instead.

Topics:  PUA Overview  |  PUA Payments  |  How to Apply for PUA  |  PUA FAQs

PUA Overview

PUA is a temporary federal program that provides up to 79 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) such as:

  • Individuals who are self-employed.
  • Certain independent contractors.
  • Individuals with limited recent work history.
  • Other workers not covered by Regular UI.

To be eligible for PUA, your reason for no longer working must fall within one of the COVID-19 Scenarios.

NOTE: The Secretary of Labor expanded PUA eligibility to include three new COVID-19 related reasons under which a person may qualify. Individuals previously determined not to have a COVID-19 qualifying reason that prevented them from receiving payment of PUA will be contacted by the department to determine if they now qualify under one of the three new reasons:

  • Individual was denied continued unemployment benefits because he/she refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that was not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19. Such standards may include, but are not limited to, those related to face mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or access to personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.
  • Individual provides services to an educational institution or educational service agency and is unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in the work schedule that is directly caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Such volatility may include, but is not limited to, changes in schedules and partial closures.
  • Individual is an employee and his/her hours have been reduced or he/she was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Such an example may be, but is not limited to, a server at a restaurant who was laid off for eight weeks while the restaurant was closed for in-person dining but remained open for carry-out and delivery service.

Watch for portal messaging for the next step after uploading the mailed self-certification form.

Other PUA Publications:

You will not be able to file weekly claims for PUA until your eligibility has been determined. If you qualify, your determination will provide further directions on how to file your weekly claims. If you are eligible for weeks that have already passed, you will be able to file for those at that time as well.

PUA Payments

  • Payment Amount:
    • Minimum weekly benefit amount: $163.
    • Maximum weekly benefit amount: $370.

    Did You Know? All unemployment benefits are taxable. PUA benefits are considered income for federal and state tax purposes. You may have federal (10%) and/or state (5%) taxes withheld from your PUA payments. Withhold federal and state taxes from your weekly benefit NOW, so you don't have to pay them later. You can opt to have taxes withheld at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov.

    Your 1099-G tax form is now available online at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov.

  • Benefit Amount:
    • 4% of the high quarter wages in the tax year preceding the claim; subject to PUA minimum and maximum.
  • Duration of PUA Benefits (up to 79 weeks):
  • PUA is payable for 79 weeks (minus any weeks of regular UI and Extended Benefits), 40 of which can only be paid 12/27/20 or later.

    Pandemic Assistance Period: February 2, 2020 – September 4, 2021

    Claims begin with the week the individual was first off of work or unavailable/unable due to the pandemic.

    *Claims filed after December 27, 2020 may not start prior to week ending December 12, 2020 (week 50/20) unless the individual filed a regular UI claim on or before December 27, 2020 and was later disqualified from UI. Those individuals' PUA can be backdated to the week the UI claim was effective.

How to Apply for PUA or Reopen a PUA Claim

How to Apply for PUA
  • Reopening your PUA claim (i.e., filing a new PUA application)
    • The first week PUA can be paid under The Continued Assistance Act of 2020 is the week ending January 2, 2021 (UI week 01/21).
    • To reopen your claim, go to your claimant dashboard and click on "File Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim" (like the first time you applied for PUA). You will then be asked a series of questions to ensure you are filing the correct type of application.
  • Filing PUA weekly claims
    You will not be able to file weekly claims for PUA until your eligibility has been determined. If you qualify, your determination will provide further directions on how to file your weekly claims. If you are eligible for weeks that have already passed, you will be able to file for those at that time as well.

PUA Frequently Asked Questions

Topics:  Benefit Years  |  PUA Proof of Employment Notices  |  PUA Extension  |  PUA Application Process  |  PUA Eligibility  |  Lost Wages Assistance (LWA)  |  PUA Forms  |  My PUA Benefits  |  Small Business Grants and PUA  |  Reopening a PUA Claim

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Benefit Years

If you went on to receive PUA benefits after first qualifying for a benefit year under regular UI, or you are receiving PUA benefits but you have worked for a covered employer in the last 18 months, you will be prompted in your claimant portal to file a new initial claim to determine whether you may now qualify for regular UI. If your claimant portal does not direct you to file a new initial claim you should not do so.

The impact of filing a new initial claim on your benefits will be specific to your unique circumstances. Follow instructions in your portal regarding this process. You should continue filing weekly PUA claims as appropriate.

PUA Proof of Employment Notices

The federal Continued Assistance Act includes a new requirement for certain PUA recipients to submit proof of employment or self-employment documents. If you received a letter but already submitted proof of employment documentation via fax when you applied for PUA, you do not need to resubmit the documents. If you have not yet submitted the documents described in the letter, you must send them to be eligible for PUA benefits for the week of 12/27/2020, and later. Check your portal at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov to find out if you have been sent a letter – if not, you do not need to provide documents at this time; however, please continue to check your portal periodically for updates.

The number of days you have to submit your proof of employment documents depends on when you first applied for PUA benefits. If you applied for PUA for the first time on or after 01/31/2021, you have 21 days from the date you were first instructed to provide the documents. If you filed on 01/30/2021 or earlier, you have 90 days from the date of your letter to provide the documents. Check your portal at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov to find out if you have been sent a letter – if not, you do not need to provide documents at this time; however, please continue to check your portal periodically for updates.

To meet this new federal requirement, the proof of employment documents you need to provide depend on your employment circumstances before you applied for PUA. For more information on the types of documents that will meet the requirement based on your previous employment situation, see the letter you received or check your claims portal at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov.

If you haven't filed your taxes, provide other proof of your self-employment, such as business receipts or a business license, by the deadline provided. This proof can't be used to establish your weekly benefit rate, but it meets the documentation requirement, and you can still submit tax documents later (up until 04/10/2021) if you would like to have them used to determine your weekly benefit rate.

Yes, new federal legislation requires that anyone who is paid PUA benefits for the week of 12/27/2020 or later or applies for PUA on or after 01/31/2021 must provide proof of their employment/self-employment, or planned employment/self-employment. Failure to do so will result in a denial of benefits and an overpayment of benefits paid for the week of 12/27/2020 or later.

Due to new federal legislation, anyone who is paid PUA benefits for the week of 12/27/2020 or later or applies for PUA on or after 1/31/2021 must provide this documentation. Anyone who fails to provide proof will be required to repay any PUA benefits received after 12/27/20 or later.

PUA Extension

No. Your PUA will not restart until the week ending January 2, 2021 (UI week 01/21). This is how the federal Continued Assistance Act of 2020 was written.

PUA Application Process

No, you should not apply for this benefit if you have a pending application for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.

If you were denied regular UI benefits and are out of work due to COVID-19 then you should apply for PUA. If you are receiving regular UI benefits, you may not apply and will not be eligible for this benefit.

If you have worked for an employer in the past 18 months who pays into UI, apply for regular unemployment. Otherwise, if you do not qualify for regular UI and are unable to work due to COVID-19, file for PUA.

If you worked for an employer in the last 18 months, who pays into UI, you must apply for regular UI first to determine if you are eligible for regular UI. If you are denied regular UI benefits you may apply for PUA.

If you have not worked for an employer who pays into UI in the last 18 months, you can apply for PUA immediately.

You must wait for a determination on your eligibility for regular UI benefits. If you are denied then you may apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

When a claimant has successfully submitted their PUA application, a large red box will be displayed across the top of their claimant portal dashboard containing the following message: "We have received your PUA application. Each application must be manually reviewed, entered into our system, and processed by a staff member. You will be notified via USPS and in your claims portal when your application has been processed."

PUA Eligibility

No, this benefit is only considered when an individual is determined to be ineligible for regular Unemployment Insurance.

No, if you have the ability to telework and be paid the same as you have customarily worked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, then you are not eligible for PUA.

No, if you are on paid leave you are considered employed.

If you are receiving PUA and become eligible for a new regular unemployment insurance claim, you will no longer be eligible for PUA.

No, you would not be eligible for PUA. However, the Federal government has made other programs available to farmers through the USDA. Find more information at https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.

Under state law, if you are receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) payments, you are not eligible to receive regular UI benefits (See s. 108.04(12)(f), Wis. Stats.). If you are receiving SSDI payments, you must report this information on your initial claim and weekly claim certifications.

An individual can receive SSDI payments and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) at the same time.

If you are the primary caregiver and must stay home to care for your child(ren) who are attending school online or cannot work from home due to the constant attention required for the online learning and are not receiving pay, you may be eligible for PUA.

If you are the primary caregiver, not receiving pay and are unable to go to work or work from home due to the amount of constant attention required by the online instruction you may be eligible for PUA for the days where your child(ren) are not attending school in person.

If you are eligible for regular UI, you need to exhaust all regular UI payable to you before you could potentially receive PUA. This includes Regular UI, PEUC, and Extended Benefits (EB) You should not file for PUA until you have exhausted all regular UI payments, including EB.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA)

No, because these were not reasons which allowed for payment of PUA when the LWA program was established on 8/8/2020, LWA cannot be paid in association with these new COVID-19 qualifying reasons.

No, you will not be eligible for LWA on claims filed after 12/27/2020.

PUA Forms

Logon to my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov and upload. If this is not possible, you may submit by mail or fax.

Mail:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program
PO Box 7905
Madison WI 53707

OR

Fax:
(608) 327-6193
Include a cover sheet; Write ATTN: PUA on the cover sheet, and include: 1) the number of pages you are faxing (excluding cover sheet), 2) your complete name and 3) social security number.

My PUA Benefits

After you receive an initial determination that you are eligible for PUA benefits, you must file a weekly claim.

If you have filed a weekly claim, your weekly claim might be held due to an eligibility issue. Your PUA dashboard should describe the issue that is holding your claim.

Possible reasons for the hold may include:

  • Not enough time has passed since your last denial
  • You did not earn enough money since your last denial
  • You earned too much money
  • You worked too many hours

At each quarter change (January, April, July, and October), the U.S. Department of Labor requires states to check whether a claimant receiving benefits from a special program (such as PUA) has now worked and earned enough wages to set up a claim under regular UI in Wisconsin or in another state. This check requires a manual review by staff.

You will be notified via USPS and in your claims portal when your application has been processed. If you qualify, your determination will provide further directions on how to file your weekly claims. If you are eligible for weeks that have already passed, you will be able to file for those at that time as well.

Yes. As with any unemployment claim, you are required to provide accurate information or face penalties, including denial of benefits and repayment of benefits.

Yes, you will need to file weekly claims to receive weekly payments. Once you are notified of eligibility for PUA, you will receive instructions on how to file your weekly claims. The weekly claims cannot be filed until you have been determined eligible for PUA.

More information will be provided once you have been determined to be eligible for PUA. The weekly claim cannot be filed until you have been determined eligible for PUA.

Small Business Grants and PUA

Unlike payments under the Paycheck Protection Program, these grant funds paid to a self-employed individual do not need to be reported as wages in weekly PUA claims. (See separate guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program.)

Divide the full amount of PPP (2.5 months of net income) by 8 and report that amount as self-employment income for the week of the loan disbursement and the following 7 weeks.

Reopening a PUA Claim

To reopen your PUA claim, when you go into your claimant dashboard, click on the "File Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim" (as you did the first time you applied for PUA). You will then be asked a series of questions to ensure you are filing the correct type of application.

No. Your PUA benefit rate is set for 52 weeks based on the tax information supplied when you initially applied for PUA.