On Monday, April 20, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker announced that Massachusetts residents who were not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now expect to have some financial relief by applying under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA).
The PUA program was created by the federal CARES Act — Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. This Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 to address the economic fallout of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
This new federal benefits program will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits.
PUA will cover those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers and those with limited work history.
To be eligible for this program you must provide self certification that you are otherwise able to work, but cannot because of circumstances related to COVID-19.
Individuals who are able to telework with pay or receiving sick pay or other paid benefits equal to their normal work week pay are not qualified for this program.
However, those who are working fewer hours resulting in a loss of income, or are receiving sick pay or other paid benefits that are less than their normal work week pay may still be eligible for PUA.
Initially, benefits will be paid retroactively to the week ending March 14, but beginning on April 30, eligible workers will be able to request benefits retroactive to as early as Jan. 27, 2020, depending on when their unemployment began.
The federal CARES Act has also created the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC). This program will provide an additional $600 weekly benefit to those receiving unemployment or PUA benefits through July 25, 2020.
Another program created under the CARES Act is the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC). This program will allow for an additional 13 weeks of benefits after previous unemployment benefits have been exhausted.
For more information on how to apply for the PUA program visit www.mass.gov/pua.