What can I do if I am denied Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits?
If you received a Notice of Determination finding you ineligible for PUA benefits, you must file an appeal within 21 days of the determination date listed on the notice.
Please note, this new deadline applies to all UC and PUA decisions after July 24, 2021. Many Notices of Determination and Referee Decisions have incorrect appeal deadlines based on 15 days.
You can appeal directly in your PUA portal.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to submit your appeal is via email.
You can email your appeal to [email protected] with the following information:
Subject: Appealing PUA Determination
- Your full name and mailing address
- Your phone number
- The name, address and phone number of your employer (if applicable)
- The last four digits of your social security number (xxxx-xx-1234) and your PUA claim number
- The mailing date of the determination that you are appealing
- A brief statement explaining that you are appealing a PUA determination and why you disagree with the determination
You only need to send one email. After you send the email to [email protected], you will receive a confirmation email (check your spam folder as well). If you do not receive this confirmation within an hour you should make sure that the email address was entered properly and try again.
PUA notices provide a fax number: 855-728-2329.
When filing an appeal by fax, in addition to the fax number, we advise that you include the following on the fax cover sheet:
- Your name;
- The date of the determination you are appealing; and
- The date you are submitting your appeal.
- Your PUA claim number.
When filing your appeal by fax, you should be aware that you will be held responsible for any error or delay in the process of transmitting the appeal, even if the delay is caused by technological failure. As a result, it is very important that you ensure that the fax is sent to the correct number and that you receive the fax verification/confirmation page that is printed after the fax has been successfully transmitted.
Keep the verification page and a copy of your appeal for your records in case of any potential issue regarding the timeliness of your appeal.
The information necessary for sending your appeal by mail will be located on the back of most Notices of Determination issued by unemployment. Specifically, you will want to find which Unemployment Compensation Service Center mailed your Notice of Determination to determine the appropriate address to use when mailing your appeal.
When filing your appeal by mail, the filing date will be based on US Postal Service postmark date, the date of a Postal Service certificate of mailing or the date of a Postal Service certified mail receipt.
- In the absence of these dates, the filling date is the date of a postage meter mark.
- In the absence of all of the above dates, the filing date is the date the department receives the appeal.
As a result, if you choose to file your appeal by mail, we strongly recommend that you send the appeal using certified mail and retain the receipt to ensure that you can establish when the appeal was filed in case of any potential issue regarding the timeliness of your appeal.
What happens after I appeal?
When you appeal a Notice of Determination, or if your employer appeals a Notice of Determination, you will be scheduled for a Referee Hearing. The Referee hearing works like a mini-trial. You will have an opportunity to testify and present evidence. You should be prepared to present all relevant paperwork, such as tax documents, letters from your employer or clients, paystubs, doctor’s notes, etc.
You have a right to a representative in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Hearings. We strongly advise that you seek legal representation for your hearing. If you have a hearing scheduled and would like representation or advice for the hearing, you can request a continuance of the hearing so that you can find legal representation. You can email or fax a request for a continuance to the Referee office (fax number and email address should be on the Notice of Hearing you received). The Referee office strongly prefers that you ask for a continuance more than 48 hours in advance – however, if you want a representative it is okay to ask for a continuance at any time, even during the hearing.
You can call the phone number on your Notice of Hearing if you have questions about the hearing.
Referee Hearings During COVID-19
Throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic, referee hearings were only being held by telephone. PUA hearings are still being scheduled by telephone. If you prefer an in person hearing, you can email a request to the Referee Office and state you want an in person hearing in your county. We recommend that claimants who need interpreters request in person hearings.
If you have a telephone hearing, make sure that your correct phone number is on the Notice of Hearing. The Referee will call you on that phone number at the time of the hearing.
- The Referee Office should mail you a copy of all the documents for the hearing. If you did not receive this, tell the Referee at the beginning of the hearing so they can reschedule the hearing and get you the documents.
- If you have evidence and documents to present, you must email or mail them to the Referee office at least 5 calendar days prior to the hearings. Oftentimes, Referees do not have access to the documents you uploaded on your portal.
If you have an in-person hearing, you should be at the hearing location at least 30 minutes before the time listed on the Notice of Hearing.
The Department’s web page about referee hearings goes into more detail about the process.
Finding Free Legal Advice and Representation
Unlike in criminal law cases, there is not a lawyer automatically assigned to your case for an unemployment hearing. However, legal aid organizations across Pennsylvania offer free legal advice, and often representation in PUA hearings, to claimants who qualify for their services. If you have little or no income, you should generally qualify. You can find your local legal aid provider on the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network website.
You may also find help from a local law school legal clinic.