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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program


You may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits this summer due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

 Seasonal or part-time employment, such as a summer job between school semesters, traditionally does not qualify workers for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, usually because workers lack sufficient work history to qualify for UI benefits. This includes summer self-employment.

 However, the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program was created to fill this gap for unemployment tied to the COVID-19 health crisis.

 You can qualify for a PUA benefit if you are unemployed or partially unemployed because of any of the following COVID-19 circumstances:

  • You were scheduled to begin employment and do not have a job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • You have been forced to quit a job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • You are providing care for a family member or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • You are the primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility that has been closed as a direct result of COVID-19 and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • You are unable to reach the place of employment because a health care provider has advised the individual to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • You have become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.

You should apply with truthful information about your work history, and apply with complete information about your past income. Based on federal guidance released so far, previous employment during the summer months should be allowed to show that you were scheduled to begin employment but cannot because of COVID-19, but an actual offer of employment would be ideal to bolster someone’s case for a benefit. Although eligibility for benefits cannot be guaranteed, nothing prohibits you from filing a claim for regular benefits, as long as you truthfully complete the application.

Maryland guidance advises applicants who are seeking a PUA benefit to:

  • Include in supporting documentation for an application proof of an offer to begin employment that was postponed or withdrawn due to COVID-19.
  • PUA applicants who lost the opportunity of summer work would be well advised to try and get from their employer an offer that they would otherwise take but for COVID 19.
  • For those who rely on self-employment income over the summer, Maryland tells applicants to have documentation of the income earned in 2019 (Schedule K-1, Form 1099, or summary of quarterly payments) and any necessary licenses and permits for self-employment.

This link provides additional information needed to apply for UI

Possible self-employment may be covered for PUA benefits as well:  The U. S. Department of Labor has advised states that a driver for a ridesharing service who receives an IRS Form 1099 is newly eligible for the PUA benefit “if he or she has been forced to suspend operations as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, such as if an emergency state or municipal order restricting movement makes continued operations unsustainable.”