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April 21, 2020

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance now available to Pennsylvania gig workers

More than 50,000 residents apply for benefits after online portal launches

Pennsylvania residents who are self-employed, gig workers or independent contractors now can apply for pandemic unemployment assistance if their jobs have been adversly impacted by the coronavirus crisis. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry launched an online portal late Friday evening to receive applications from workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits. More than 50,000 applications were submitted over the weekend, WHYY reported. 

Eligible workers also include residents who work for certain religious entities, people seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who do not otherwise qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, the state's FAQ reads.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was created by the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress last month. On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said that gig workers would be added to the group of state residents receiving these federal benefits.

Though the portal is open, its website does not specify when PUA benefits will be dispersed. 

The program will provide up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits, the site says. Those interested can read about eligibility here, and learn about applying online here.

Workers who are eligible will receive between $195 to $572 per week, with some receiving additional weekly payments of $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits. The FPUC benefits will cease distribution for the week of July 25, 2020, but PUA payments will extend through the week of December 31, 2020.

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