That will soon change as part of the federal $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic relief package.
Gig workers, people who had job offers revoked because of the pandemic, and those without enough work history to apply for traditional unemployment insurance are among the workers who will now be able to access benefits through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. It will be administered by the state.
There are still some people who will not be eligible for benefits, including undocumented workers and workers in the cash economy. Advocates have been fighting for a local relief fund that will give money to these workers.
Here’s what else you need to know.
The program covers several types of workers who have lost income because of the coronavirus shutdowns but aren’t eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. Read through our explainer on state unemployment benefits to see if you’re eligible for the pre-existing program.
Workers who are eligible for the new program include:
You could also be eligible if you’ve lost work because:
Here is a bigger list of situations that could make you eligible for this new unemployment program.
You’ll have to show proof of employment and income, which you can do through documents like tax returns, bank receipts, pay stubs, or invoices. Simon-Mishel said you could likely even use a Venmo transaction history plus a calendar showing appointments.
If you lost a job offer because of the coronavirus, you’ll need to show proof of that offer.
Going forward, it’s not clear yet what documentation you will need to file bi-weekly claims, Simon-Mishel said.
Yes. Even though you’re going to file at the end of April or in early May when the application opens, you can get paid retroactively. You can submit claims going as far back as Jan. 27 for coronavirus-related reasons.
Yes. The federal government’s stimulus package is upping unemployment benefits through the end of July, and anyone who gets benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is eligible for those.
You can get benefits for up to 39 weeks through this program, and it will run through Dec. 25, 2020.
It depends on your previous earning history. The minimum payment in Pennsylvania is $195 a week. The maximum is $572 a week. That doesn’t count the extra $600 a week you can also get through the stimulus package.
It depends why your application was denied, Simon-Mishel said.
If the denial was because you didn’t work that much in 2019 and most of your wages have been earned in 2020, apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
If you got denied because most of your wages were earned in the second half of 2019, re-apply for traditional unemployment. Now that it’s April, the state will be looking at a different window of time to assess your application.
If you got denied because of an error, like some wages you earned were not reported by your employer, appeal. You have to do it within 15 days.
If you’re, say, a rideshare driver who believes you’re being misclassified, Simon-Mishel recommended applying for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.