Federal pandemic benefits halted: Pennsylvanians urged to apply for other state assistance programs

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GAO Unemployment Benefits

FILE – In this May 6, 2020, file photo, a sign stands outside the Department of Labor’s headquarters in Washington. A government watchdog has found that the Labor Department’s widely watched weekly unemployment benefits data are providing an inaccurate reading on the number of newly laid off workers because of flaws in the government’s data collection. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) —  Because Congressional legislation to extend the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs has been delayed in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is strongly encouraging the more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians receiving payments through these expiring programs to seek other forms of assistance.

Under the current CARES Act, both programs will stop at the end of this month and Pennsylvania claimants will not receive payments after the week ending December 26. 

“Pennsylvanians receiving PUA or PEUC payments need to be aware that they will not be able to file a claim next week and should begin preparing now to seek the necessities they will need through other means,” said L&I Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier. “I urge current PUA and PEUC claimants to apply for additional assistance through programs outside of L&I as soon as possible to prevent their families from reaching an emergency or dangerous situation.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) cannot issue guidance for the PUA and PEUC program extensions and required changes to the programs in the CARES Act Extension legislation until the bill is signed into law.

Because states cannot begin implementing the programs and provisions in the new law until receiving US DOL’s guidance, PUA and PEUC claimants will experience several weeks between the time the program extension is signed into legislation and payments resume.

L&I encourages PUA and PEUC claimants to review the following resources for eligibility and apply immediately if they qualify:

PUA and PEUC claimants are also encouraged to use the United Way of Pennsylvania’s 211 program to identify local resources, including food banks, housing assistance, and utility help. Claimants can review available programs in their ZIP code by visiting pa211.org, by texting their ZIP code to 898-211, or by calling 211 any time (24/7/365).

Throughout November and December, Governor Tom Wolf and L&I leaders repeatedly called for the federal government to approve an extension to the CARES Act before it lapsed at the end of 2020.

L&I will make updates on the PUA and PEUC programs and other federal programs affected by the CARES Act extension as information becomes available.

More Pennsylvania resources and tips, including financial help with credit cards, mortgage or rent, and mental health resources, are available by clicking on “COVID-19” at www.pa.gov.

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