The information for this article comes from the PA Department of Labor & Industry, Division of Workers Compensation: Frequently Asked Questions. If you need more information, please check out: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQs

Have you recently lost your job due to COVID? Are you a gig worker and haven’t had much business this year?  It’s difficult to navigate when you are entitled to unemployment compensation and what the difference is between Pandemic Unemployment Assitance and regular Unemployment Compensation. This article with help you learn the differences between the two programs.


In general, PUA provides up to 50 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not entitled or eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits.


To be eligible for PUA, an individual cannot be eligible for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC). However, the PA Office of Unemployment Compensation recommends that all individuals apply for regular UC first to check whether there are any base year wages on record. If denied, the individual should then apply for PUA.

PUA Eligibility:  you may be eligible for PUA if you are self-employed, your work as an independent contractor, do not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular UC, or have exhausted your rights to regular UC benefits or extended benefits.

You may be qualified for PUA if you are unemployed or partially employed because any of the following COVID related reasons:

  1. You have been diagnosed with COVID or are experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis
  2. A member of your household had been diagnosed with COVID-19
  3. You are providing care for a member of your household who has been diagnosed with COVID
  4. Your child is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed due to COVID, you are the primary caregiver, and that school or facility is required for you to work
  5. You cannot get to work because of quarantine, or another stay at home order.
  6. You have been advised by a health care provider to self-isolate or quarantine
  7. The head of your household died because of COVID
  8. You had to quit your job because of a COVID diagnosis, and you could not perform your job duties
  9. The place worked is closed because of COVID



You should file for regular UC if you have an employer and

  • you have been laid off, or
  • your hours have been reduced through no fault of your own, or
  • you cannot work because a medical or public official has directed you to quarantine or self-isolate because of COVID-19 exposure, symptoms, or a positive diagnosis; or
  • you are caring for someone who is suspected of having or has tested positive for COVID-19.

When Do I file for PUA?

File for PUA if you are not eligible for regular UC because you have lost income due to COVID-19 and

  • are self-employed, or
  • lack sufficient work history, or
  • have exhausted all rights to regular UC or extended benefits.

How much will I receive in PUA benefits?

PUA benefits are based on your previous income reported. It cannot be more that the state’s maximum rate of $572. Benefits may not be less than half of the state’s average weekly benefit amount.

All individuals receiving PUA will receive $300 per work from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. This is in addition to the weekly benefits from the state. The benefits under FPUC began December 26, 2020, and will end March 13, 2021.

If you have any questions about claiming unemployment compensation and PUA benefits or a need a lawyer to assist you in getting recovery, we are here to help. Contact us at 215-592-8080.