What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a new temporary federal program that is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The PUA program is available retroactive to February 2, 2020 through September 4, 2021 and provides benefits to eligible individuals.

PUA is separate from unemployment insurance and provides coverage only to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance.

Who is Eligible for PUA?

PUA is available to Nevada workers who are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work or unavailable for work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. This includes many different groups of people:

  • Self-employed
  • 1099 contract workers
  • Gig workers
  • Employees whose wages are not reported for unemployment insurance
  • Employees who have not earned enough wages or worked enough hours for regular unemployment benefits
  • Individuals who were going to start work but could not due to COVID-19 pandemic

What does it mean to be affected by COVID-19?

To be eligible for PUA, your ability or availability to work must be affected by COVID-19. There are several different ways this could happen:

  • You have been diagnosed with 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 a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Your child or other persons in the household for whom you are the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and directly prevents you from working;
  • You are unable to reach your place of employment because of a quarantine or stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You are unable to reach your place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or quarantine because you are positive for or may have had exposure to someone who has or is suspected of having COVID-19;
  • You were scheduled to start a new job and do not have an existing job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You had to quit your job due to being diagnosed with COVID-19 and being unable to perform your work duties; 
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • You are self-employed or an independent contractor and a slowdown in business due to COVID-19 has forced you to suspend operations;
  • You were denied continued unemployment benefits because you refused to return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that, in either instance, is not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19. This includes but is not limited to, those related to facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines;
  • You provide services to an educational institution or educational service agency and are unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in the work schedule that is directly caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, changes in schedules and partial closures; or
  • You are an employee and your hours have been reduced or you were laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Who is not eligible for PUA?

Eligibility for PUA requires that an individual be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work in Nevada due to COVID-19, and that you not be eligible for any other unemployment insurance benefits. For example, you are not eligible for PUA if:

  • If you are eligible for a regular UI claim, PEUC or SEB
  • If you are able to work remotely without reduced pay
  • If you are receiving paid sick leave or other leave benefits
  • If you are unemployed, but not due to COVID-19
  • If you were not working in Nevada at the time you became unemployed due to COVID-19 and do not have a bona fide job offer to work in Nevada that you were unable to start due to COVID-19

I am filing for PUA benefits. What can I expect?

At this time, the PUA system is taking initial applications for benefits. There will be a number of questions to help determine your eligibility for PUA, based on how you were affected by COVID-19, when you became unemployed, and what your attachment is to the Nevada labor market.

  • Please use the earliest date that you became unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work or unavailable for work due to COVID-19.
  • Be honest in all your answers.
  • Have documentation of all your earnings for the calendar year 2019 and 2020.
  • If you choose to receive a debit card instead of direct deposit, the card will not be sent until a benefit week is paid.

It is against Federal Law to file for and receive benefits for Unemployment Insurance (including Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and State Extended Benefits (SEB)) at the same time as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

PLEASE NOTE: If you file for and receive benefits from both programs at the same time, you will be disqualified and liable for the overpayment. This may also constitute fraud which is a felony in Nevada.

How long will it take before I can get PUA payments?

DETR anticipates tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of applications being submitted; likely all at once. We will have staff trained and ready to start processing these applications. Each claim requires a review for each week of PUA eligibility and will take some time. The Division recommends checking the website and your PUA account for any current/updated changes. During the application process, you will have the option to choose between direct deposit, which will process more quickly, or you may choose to receive a new debit card which will not be sent until a benefit week is paid.

What kind of documentation do I need to provide to show my previous income?

Documents which show your total income for the entire year such as tax documents are preferable, as these will allow a quicker review of your total earnings. Acceptable documentation you can provide may include but is not limited to:

  • W-2 or 1099 forms
  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Bank receipts
  • Ledger
  • Invoices
  • Billing statements

Providing this documentation may increase your benefit amount based on a percentage of earnings. Documentation will need to be provided within the PUA application, documentation which has been sent to DETR through other means will not be transferred to PUA.

How do I participate in work search activities?

A work search is a good faith effort to find work and claimants are expected to use reasonable methods and conduct work search activities normal to their occupation. DETR has a number of programs and partners to help claimants with this process that includes training for a new high demand career, adult education and literacy programs, virtual support at Nevada JobConnect and in person support through Nevadaworks in Northern Nevada, and Workforce Connections in Southern Nevada. 

For more information on work search activities, watch this video.

Review this document for resources on how to promote your business, get help with business mentoring, and many other resources for small businesses and gig workers.

To meet the work search requirement, you will need to complete a mixture of activities, most days of the week. Think about doing something each day, Monday through Friday.

  • Create or update a resume
  • Create a profile on freelance or gig work websites
  • Participate in business networking
  • Learn how to expand your business by connecting with free mentoring programs
  • Connect with Small Business Administration resources
  • Promote and market your business to gain new clients

Be sure to document your work search effort. You can download and print a work search log here.

Documenting your work search includes printing confirmation emails, writing down the name, address, phone number and contact you spoke to when applying for a job. If you take a test for a potential job or participate in training, note those efforts as well.

Have more questions?