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March 2, 2021
On February 25, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance that expands eligibility for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program.
Congress created PUA in March 2020 to temporarily expand unemployment insurance eligibility to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Individuals covered under PUA include (1) the self-employed; (2) individuals lacking sufficient work history; (3) those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits; and (4) those who are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to a specific COVID-19-related reason. (You can review the COVID-19-related reasons in the CARES Act at Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(aa)-(jj) here and an additional reason that the DOL added at Section C(1)(kk) of Attachment I to UIPL No. 16-20, Change 4 here).
The DOL has now expanded PUA eligibility to include three additional COVID-19-related reasons:
These additional eligibility provisions apply retroactively to the beginning of the PUA program, though individuals who did not file an initial PUA claim on or before December 27, 2020 are limited to weeks of unemployment beginning on or after December 6, 2020.