Pandemic Unemployment Assistance by Specific Need
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a program under the CARES Act. It provides unemployment benefits to individuals who became unemployed because of COVID-19 and are not eligible for regular benefits.
Idaho discontinued all federal CARES Act unemployment assistance programs week ending June 19, 2021.
Additional information is available here.
- Discharge for misconduct
- Quit without good cause
- Quit for personal reasons not connected to the employer
- Self-employment as a primary occupation
- Attending school that interferes with your availability to work
- Minimum payment: $168 per week
- Maximum payment: $463 per week
- Provides up to 79 weeks of benefits
- Last Payable Week: Week ending June 19, 2021.
- State Taxes: PUA is not exempt from Idaho state income taxes.
- Federal Taxes: Up to $10,200 of unemployment insurance benefits received in 2020 is exempt from federal income taxes. PUA will be subject to 10 percent federal withholding tax, if you elected to have federal taxes withheld from your regular benefits. Find more information about changing your election.
- If you knowingly make a false statement or fail to disclose information in an attempt to receive PUA benefits you are not entitled, you are committing fraud. Fraud results in a disqualification from benefits, an overpayment of benefits, penalties, and potential criminal prosecution. Discontinue your weekly reports when you return to full-time employment and notify the department if you refuse work for any reason.
How to Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Step 1: Apply for Unemployment Benefits
File an unemployment insurance claim application at idaho.gov/claimantportal. Idaho Department of Labor will determine if you have earned enough wages to be monetarily eligible for regular unemployment benefits. You will receive a letter in the mail explaining your monetary entitlement. If you are not monetarily eligible for benefits view: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for Low Wage Earners.
Step 2: Look for work
On April 2, 2021, the Idaho Department of Labor notified all unemployment insurance claimants currently receiving benefits that pre-pandemic work search requirements will be reinstated starting April 25, 2021. Claimants must seek work unless they are returning to work with an employer within 16 weeks. Work search requirements apply to regular and CARES Act unemployment insurance programs. They also apply to all claimants, including low- wage earners.
Step 3: Continue to submit your weekly certifications at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal
Step 4: Receive a Determination of Benefits
- We will mail you a determination allowing or denying regular unemployment.
- If a pending issue is cleared and you are then allowed regular benefits, you will be issued unemployment insurance benefits automatically.
- If you are denied regular unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for PUA after you complete steps 5 and 6 below.
Step 5: Submit Proof of 2019 Earnings
U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) requires claimants who received PUA benefits in 2021 to prove their employment or self-employment. Failure to supply documentation will result in an overpayment and denial of benefits previously paid. If you received an overpayment of benefits notice, you may have been denied because you failed to provide your employment or self-employment documentation. Please contact a claim specialist at (208) 332-8942 after you have submitted your documentation for assistance with your overpayment.
Establish your work history and proof of income with any of the following documents:
- 2019 Pay Stub
- 2019 W2
- 2019 Tax documents
- 2019 Employer Earnings Report
Submit your proof of income using one of the following methods:
- Upload to the Claimant Portal
- Fax to: (208) 780-5130
- Mail to:
Idaho Department of Labor ATTN PUA
317 Main St
Boise ID 83735-0770
If you upload to Claimant Portal, the file size limit is 5 MB. File types allowed are: pdf, xps, doc, docx, odf, xls, xlsx, csv, ods, jpg, png, tif, txt, rtf, qbv, qbf, qbb, qbw, qbm, qbx.
Step 6: Verify your identity
U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) requires claimants receiving PUA benefits to verify their identity. You must verify your identity through our trusted partner, ID.me. If you fail to verify your identity through ID.me within 14 days, your unemployment insurance claim will be denied. Learn more about the identity verification process.
Step 7: Application Review
No additional action is necessary to prove your employment after you supply your proof of earnings unless we contact you. If additional information is needed or if you have not provided sufficient documentation for your proof of wages, you will be contacted by phone or email. When your proof of income is reviewed and approved, you will be sent a monetary redetermination. You must continue to file your weekly claim application. You will be issued payment for eligible weeks(s) claimed once your identity is verified and your documentation is reviewed. You will be paid retroactively for eligible week(s) claimed during the proof of income review, even if you have returned to work. Payment will be in one lump sum via direct deposit or debit card.
Qualifying COVID-19 Reasons
To be eligible for PUA, an individual must be unemployed or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed below:
- Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Has a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Is providing care for a family member or a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Is the primary caregiver of a child or household member who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for work.
- Is unable to reach place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Is unable to reach place of employment because due to advise of a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- Was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Has become the breadwinner or major household support because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Quit employment as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Self-employed (including an independent contractor and gig worker) and experienced a significant reduction of customary or usual services because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Was denied continued unemployment benefits because of a work refusal that 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.
- Provide services to an educational institution or educational service agency and am 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.
- An employee whose hours have been reduced or an employee who was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Those Not Eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Include an Individual:
- Who does not meet any of the criteria above.
- Who has the ability to telework with pay and would still be working substantially the same number of hours and be receiving the same pay.
- Who is receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits and those benefits would exceed their weekly amount of PUA.
- Who is eligible for another state or federal unemployment program including unemployment insurance (UI), Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE), Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Extended Benefits (EB), and Extended Benefits for Training (TRA).