How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Every State

If you have already exhausted your state’s Unemployment Insurance benefits, you may receive additional benefits through PUA.
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If you’re ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you’ll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.
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Here’s a look at what’s included. (Click a link to jump to the section you need.)

Depending on which gig app you use and how much you earned, you may not have received any 1099 income forms in the mail. In that case, log on to the app and download your income statements.

What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who haven’t exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.
Perseverance is key.
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  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has COVID-19.
  • You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
  • You are quarantined by order of a doctor or health official.
  • You were scheduled to start employment and don’t have a job or can’t reach their workplace as a result of the pandemic.
  • You have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household died due to COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
Pro Tip
This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.
To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.
To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.

How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA

Your state may require a few additional documents, but here’s an overview:
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The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.


States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.
States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM

States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Expect Delays

For simplicity — and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim — both methods are categorized as “general unemployment (UI)” on the map, in dark  blue.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was established by the .2 trillion federal stimulus package in March 2020 and was extended by the second stimulus package passed in December 2020.
In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.