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Applications open for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

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REALTORS® can now apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through the California Employment Development Department (EDD), which began accepting applications April 28. PUA, a key component of the CARES Act, expands unemployment benefits eligibility to business owners, self-employed workers and independent contractors, including most REALTORS®.

To assist you with learning about and applying to this and other relief programs, we have extended the COVID Relief Hotline’s hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., April 28-May 1. Additionally, C.A.R. will be providing webinars on Wednesday and Thursday,  April 29 and April 30 on the application process. See the Webinars page on the coronavirus microsite for more details. You can also visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page on C.A.R.’s coronavirus website, which will be updated as more information becomes available.

According to California Secretary of Labor Julie Su, the fastest and most convenient way to apply for PUA will be through UI Online, where you can create an account, file your claim, certify for continued benefits, verify your income and update your information. If you are an independent contractor, even though you may be able to set up a UI Online account now, you will need to wait until PUA applications open to file your claim.

To qualify for PUA, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic — see the list below for what qualifies.
  • You are not eligible for traditional unemployment compensation.
  • You have exhausted any other unemployment benefits, if applicable.
  • You are not receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
  • You do not have the ability to work remotely with pay.

To be “unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” you must also meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • If you work as an independent contractor with reportable income, you may qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work because the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited your ability to continue performing your customary work activities, and has thereby forced you to stop working.
  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • You are unable to work because a health care provider advised you to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • A child or other person in the household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 and the school or facility care is required for you to work.
  • You became the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You have to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You were scheduled to start a job that is now unavailable as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You are unable to reach the place of employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

PUA benefit payments to eligible applicants will be issued in phases. Initially, claims will be approved on an emergency basis. You will need to provide your total income for 2019 (including both W-2 and 1099 income) and self-certify that you meet the criteria above. The EDD will initially rely on your self-certifications and approve the base benefit of $167 per week within 24-48 hours. If additional information is needed, the EDD will contact you.

These base benefits are available for weeks starting February 2 and continuing for up to 39 weeks, depending on the effective date of your claim and your continued eligibility.  Additionally, the CARES Act provides a temporary increase of $600 per week that will be added to the base benefit for any eligible weeks between March 29 and July 25, so total benefits during this period will be $767 per week. These benefits will be paid on EDD debit cards mailed shortly following approval.

If the income you stated in the initial application indicates you would be entitled to more than the base benefit, the EDD will attempt to verify your income using other resources available to it. If the EDD needs additional information to document your income, they will contact you and may ask for documentation such as an annual tax return, 1099 forms, W-2 pay stubs or other documents that show your income.


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