HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier has provided an update on the recent Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) implementations in Pennsylvania. Both programs, which expired the end of December 2020, have resumed as part of the new federal CARES Act extensions.
“While L&I has fixed many of the issues we experienced with the PEUC and PUA extension implementations, there are a few remaining problems that our dedicated team is working around the clock to resolve,” said Berrier. “I want to thank the helpful claimants who reach out to us to report problems. We hear you and take your reports of issues very seriously. We will be investigating any additional reports we observe on social media or receive from claimants for both programs and provide updates until all problems are resolved.”
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
PEUC Fixes and Issues
- The PEUC system was updated over the weekend to allow a subset of claimants who have been unable to file since December 26 to claim their eligible weeks.
- L&I is also working to move a small segment of claimants who were put on Pennsylvania’s Extended Benefits program during the December 26 CARES Act program pause back to the PEUC program.
Additional PEUC Information
Since the PEUC program extension was implemented on January 24, more than $32 million in payments have been made to claimants. Claimants can file for the 11 additional weeks provided by the extension, which is on top of 13 weeks provided in the original CARES Act. The PEUC program adds a total of 24 weeks to the number of eligible weeks a claimant has through the regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) program.
PEUC claimants that experience additional issues with their claims should email [email protected] and provide a short description of the problem, their name as it appears on their claim, and the last four digits of their Social Security number.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
PUA Fixes and Issues
- Some claimants are experiencing a USCIS issue related to residency (permanent resident versus U.S. citizen). While L&I found that some claimants are having this issue due to incorrectly self-identifying their residency, they are now also seeing this USCIS issue for individuals who self-identified correctly. L&I is continuing to investigate and work on this issue and will provide updates when they have more information.
- L&I is also working to add the 2020 claim year for claimants who applied for PUA after January 1.
PUA Website “Waiting Room”
- Some PUA claimants have reported long wait times in a PUA website “waiting room,” which the vendor created after an initial surge in claimants caused website slowness and page crashes. After a certain number of claimants are detected on the PUA program website, the waiting room page automatically goes into effect.
- The wait time is usually relatively short. But on Sunday, which is the most common day for claimants to file, L&I did notice some longer wait times.
- As a quick reminder, claimants do not have to file on Sundays or Mondays, as claim weeks in Pennsylvania run from Sunday to Saturday.
- L&I’s vendor is aware of the recent long wait lines. They performed some quick maintenance on the site this morning to improve the situation and will continue to make updates as necessary.
Additional PUA Information
Since the PUA program was reopened on January 22, nearly $150 million in payments have been made to claimants of the program. PUA assists workers who are not eligible for regular UC, such as gig workers, freelancers and self-employed workers.
PUA claimants that experience additional issues with their claims should email [email protected] and provide a short description of the problem, their name as it appears on their claim, and the last four digits of their Social Security number.
The availability of new money through the CARES Act extensions has attracted fraudsters who are seeking to prey on claimants across the country, including in Pennsylvania.
This past Saturday, L&I issued a scam alert on their social media channels, as well as an announcement with information and important tips.
Recent PUA Scam Attempts
- Fraudsters are creating Facebook pages that closely resemble L&I’s real Facebook page, then posting on their page asking Pennsylvanians to send them their personal and confidential information.
- Fraudsters are also reaching out directly to someone who posts or tweets on L&I’s social media channels, falsely identify themselves as an L&I employee and attempt to solicit information to “help” them resolve their issues.
Important Fraud Tips to Remember
- L&I never contacts claimants over social media.
- L&I will never contact a claimant and ask for their full Social Security number or unemployment claim number.
- If you are a victim of fraud – or know someone who is intentionally committing unemployment benefits fraud – report it.
Tax Forms and Fraud
- All 1099 tax forms have been mailed from L&I to claimants who received unemployment benefits payments during 2020.
- If you received a tax form from L&I and DID NOT apply for or receive unemployment benefits last year, it means your personally identifiable information has most likely been used by these fraudsters.
- If this scenario applies to you, please file a fraud report – which you can find at www.uc.pa.gov/fraud.
L&I Resources and Links for Claimants
- Important Updates and News about the PUA Program
- Federal CARES Act
- Important L&I Updates Related to COVID-19
- Report Unemployment Fraud and Identity Theft
- 2020 Tax Forms for Claimants
For information on unemployment programs, visit uc.pa.gov.
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