Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 that provides temporary income to eligible individuals who became unemployed as a result of the novel COVID-19 pandemic and are either self-employed, do not have sufficient work history to be eligible for a claim, or have exhausted other forms of unemployment insurance benefits. It is funded by the federal government, not by state unemployment taxes paid by employers.
On Dec. 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021, reauthorizing and extending the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. The CAA also created the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program. IWD has received the implementing guidance from the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), and is now working on the extensive system programming needed to distribute payments to eligible claimants.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):
Minimum payment amount for individuals will be
$203 per week
Maximum payment will be
$481 per week with zero dependents
$591 with four dependents
Provides up to 50 weeks of benefits total
First Payable Week: Retroactive to the week ending January 2, 2021.
Last Payable Week: Available through March 13, 2021, or for up to 50 total weeks of eligibility, whichever comes first.
Must have a monetarily eligible state claim that has exhausted benefits, or have some work history in the last 18 months. This includes those that were scheduled to start a job and couldn't due to COVID-19 and those claimants that are currently ineligible due to a separation issue on their claim. PUA benefits for those that have a separation issue on their claim has not been implemented in Iowa. An update will be to the website when that benefit is available.
If you knowingly make or cause another person to make a false statement or knowingly fail or cause another person to fail to disclose a material fact and, as a result, receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistant to which you are not entitled, you will be subject to prosecution under 19 section 1001 of title 18, United States Code.
Quitting work without good cause to obtain UI benefits is fraud under PUA.
If, for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, you quit your job without good cause, are terminated for misconduct or refuse to work when work is available, you will be disqualified for benefits from any of the state or federal programs currently available. This means that in order to receive state or federal unemployment benefits, you must not take any action that causes you to be out of work that is unrelated to COVID-19.
Intentional misrepresentation in the reporting of earnings earned during a given week on one’s continued weekly claim for unemployment insurance can result in finding of fraud, a disqualification from benefits, and an overpayment of benefits, in addition to other penalties and potential criminal prosecution.
Other Important Information for Claimants
- Child support obligations must be deducted from PUA payments in the same way that they are to regular unemployment insurance benefits.
- PUA payments are taxable. These payments will be included on your 1099G that you receive for the 2020 tax year. Taxes will be withheld from PUA payments if you have elected to have taxes withheld from your unemployment insurance benefits.
- Notice to Claimants with a CARES Act Overpayment: A non-fraud overpayment of CARES Act benefits does not necessarily make you ineligible for future CARES Act benefits, even if future benefits may be offset to repay the overpayment. If you have received a notice of a non-fraud overpayment of CARES Act benefits, you are still eligible to apply for future benefits.
Information for Employers
- Employers will not be charged for benefits paid to employees receiving PUA.
- If you have offered work to employees as the pandemic ends and your employee refuses to return to work, you must notify Iowa Workforce Development here: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/job-offer-decline-form-employers
- Employers should ensure they are current and timely in filing quarterly unemployment insurance taxes so their employees receive benefits as quickly as possible.
- Employers should respond to all Notice of Claims (65-5317) or SIDES notifications if a claim is filed for someone that is not working due to a reason other than COVID-19.
- Employers should respond to the Notice of Claim (65-5317) or SIDES notification to report any paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
Information for Employees/Self-Employed Workers Affected by COVID-19
- If you are not working as a result of COVID-19, you must file an unemployment insurance claim application online in order to receive any form of unemployment insurance
- Your claim will be reviewed to determine if you have wages reported in Iowa to qualify for a regular unemployment insurance claim. You will receive a letter in the mail on a green sheet of paper to inform you if you are eligible for a regular unemployment claim. You may receive this letter after submitting your proof of income. The mailing of this letter is sent as a step in the process to ensure you are paid benefits on the correct unemployment insurance program. If you have already submitted proof of income, you do not need to take another action. You will be contacted if additional information is available.
- If you are self-employed and denied regular UI benefits, you will be required to submit proof of earnings online for Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to determine your eligibility for PUA. Acceptable forms of proof are listed further down this page in the section titled “What Do I Need to Provide.” The link to submit proof of earnings online is: www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/pua-application.
- Your weekly benefit amount and maximum benefit amount of PUA will be based on the income from the documentation you provide to IWD.
- When your claim expires, you will be required to file a new claim, even if you have a remaining balance of PUA.
To be eligible for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment assistance, an individual:
- Must not be eligible for other specific forms of unemployment insurance, including unemployment insurance (UI), Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE), Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Extended Benefits (EB), and Short-Time Compensation/Voluntary Shared Work (STC/VSW), OR
- Must have exhausted other forms of unemployment insurance listed above (if applicable), OR
- Must have been self-employed and not eligible for one of the forms of unemployment insurance listed above, OR
- Must have been scheduled to begin work for an employer and not be eligible for one of the forms of unemployment insurance listed above, OR
- Must have been scheduled to begin self-employment and not be eligible for one of the forms of unemployment insurance listed above, AND
- Must not qualify for an unemployment insurance claim in another state or U.S. territory, AND
- Must be fully or partially unemployed for one of the qualifying COVID-19 reasons listed below
If Eligible For State Unemployment Insurance Benefits At Any Point Since 02/02/2020:
If NOT Eligible For State Unemployment Insurance Benefits At Any Point Since 02/02/2020:
Qualifying COVID-19 Reasons:
To be eligible for PUA, an individual must be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed below:
- The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- The individual is unable to reach their place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual is unable to reach their place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- The individual has to quit their job as a direct result of COVID 19; or
- The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Those not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance include an individual:
That has the ability to telework with pay and would still be working substantially the same number of hours and be receiving the same pay .
Who is receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits and those benefits would exceed their weekly amount of PUA..
Who is eligible for another state or federal unemployment program [including unemployment insurance (UI), Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE), Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Extended Benefits (EB), Short-Time Compensation/Voluntary Shared Work (STC/VSW)], Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and Training Extension Benefits (TEB).
How to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Attention: Effective immediately, you can submit proof of your income for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through this website. PUA is a federal benefit available to workers who are unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits. The types of employment that PUA covers is listed below:
- Self-employed workers
- Independent contractors
- Non-profit employees
- Gig economy workers
- Part-time workers who do not have enough work history to be eligible for an Iowa claim
You are required to submit proof of your income to be eligible for PUA. You can upload proof of income through this website. Please follow the instructions below:
Step 1: Apply for Unemployment Benefits
- If you have not already done so, file a unemployment insurance claim application here: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits.
- Click on “Apply Online Now”.
- Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) will determine if you are eligible for a state unemployment claim.
Self-employed? Watch this tutorial for self-employed individuals who are applying for unemployment insurance benefits:
Step 2: Submit proof of income
- After you have filed an unemployment insurance claim application, submit your proof of income below by clicking "Submit Proof Here"
- Complete the questions in the online form.
- Upload your proof of income document(s). Your wage history needs to be established. This can be done by attaching any of the following documents:
- 2019 1099 Miscellaneous Income only
- 2019 W-2
- 2019 Pay stubs
- 2020 Pay stubs
- Form 1040 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- Additional options are described on the bottom of the submission page
Following submission of documents, you will receive an email notification that your submission was received
Step 3: Next Steps
- IWD will review your proof of income and issue a determination letter to you. If additional information is needed, you will be contacted.
- You will receive a letter in the mail on a green sheet of paper. PLEASE DISREGARD THIS NOTICE. IT DOES NOT APPLY TO SELF-EMPLOYED (PUA) CLAIMS. This notice is generated by the system and does not apply to self-employed claims. If you have already submitted proof of income, you do not need to take another action AFTER RECEIVING THE NOTICE. IF you have not provided sufficient documentation, you will be contacted if additional information is available. No additional action is necessary by you after you receive the notice unless we contact you directly.
- You must continue to file your weekly claim application. When your proof of income has been reviewed and approved, you will be paid for all back weeks you have reported.
Next Steps for Self-Employed, Independent Contractors, Gig Economy Workers, Nonprofit Employees, Free Lancers, etc:
- Green sheet: If you have filed an unemployment claim and are self-employed, an independent contractor, gig economy worker, etc., please disregard the form you receive from IWD on green paper. It is a standard form that is computer generated and has no bearing on your claim. No additional action is necessary at this time.
- If You Have Not Provided Sufficient Documentation
- You will be contacted by IWD by phone.
- Once Unemployment Claim Application is Reviewed:
- You will also receive a letter if your claim is approved or denied and you will receive an email if the claim is approved.
- If your claim is approved, you will begin to receive payment in 5-7 days.
- If your claim is denied, you will have 60 days to file an appeal.
Question: If I was approved for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but I received a decision stating I have been overpaid unemployment insurance benefits. Why?
When the pandemic began, all claimants were paid regular, state-funded unemployment insurance benefits until the federal programs were set up. After the CARES Act was passed, it took some time for Iowa Workforce Development to set up the program and administer Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, which are federally funded. The overpayment decision is for the state funds you received before the federal PUA program was set up. For technical reasons, Iowa Workforce Development must first issue an overpayment decision on the state funds, even if you were eventually approved for PUA benefits that cover the same time period.
Most PUA benefits have now been paid. However, due to an issue with our computer program, the agency has not been able to release PUA funds for the same time period you received regular state unemployment insurance benefits. As soon as the computer issue is fixed, Iowa Workforce Development will release PUA payments for the time period you were approved for PUA benefits, but received state benefits. Please note, the agency can only withhold 50% of your PUA benefits to offset the overpayment. The balance of the PUA payments you are owed will be disbursed to you and you may voluntarily use the money you receive to repay the remainder of the overpayment to Iowa Workforce Development.
For example, your weekly benefit amount for regular unemployment insurance benefits is $100 and you received 10 weeks of payments beginning March 29, 2020. You were later found ineligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, so you applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. You were approved for PUA benefits effective March 29, 2020, and your weekly benefit amount for PUA benefits is $100. You received an overpayment for regular unemployment insurance benefits for $1,000 for the 10 weeks of state benefits you received at the beginning of the pandemic. When the computer issues are resolved, Iowa Workforce Development will withhold $500 in PUA benefits to offset the overpayment and will release the remaining $500 directly to you. You can use that money to pay off the remainder of your overpayment.