I was Disqualified from PUA Benefits

I was Disqualified from PUA Benefits

How do I know I was disqualified?

If you have been disqualified from benefits, your message center will have a message with a determination attached as a PDF.  These determinations, called “Pandemic Unemployment Disqualification Determination” may refer to one of the reasons below.  

If you disagree with the determination, you must appeal.

Reasons you may have been denied:

No Attachment to the Labor Market

In order to qualify for PUA benefits, you must have been working prior to the pandemic, either in employment, as a self-employed individual, or as an independent contractor or freelancer.  The PUA application asked you to certify this information on your application, but the government is further investigating whether you had been attached to the labor force before COVID-19 affected work in Pennsylvania.  You may have received a questionnaire in your message center that the government wants you to fill out and upload to your portal.  

If you are denied because the government says you did not have an attachment to the labor market and you disagree, you should appeal.  Even if you do not have documentation, you will have the opportunity to testify under oath about your work.

Unemployment Not the Result of the Pandemic

To receive PUA benefits, you must be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that you have lost work, had reduced work or hours, or had a firm offer of work withdrawn because of COVID-19.  You will be asked to verify the reason for your unemployment every time you file a weekly certification. 

In some cases, the government will ask you to submit documentation that you lost work because of COVID-19.  You may receive a questionnaire in your message center.

If you are denied because the government says you did not have an attachment to the labor market and you disagree, you should appeal.  Even if you do not have documentation, you will have the opportunity to testify under oath about your work.

How do I appeal my PUA determination?

Appeal through the portal

Watch this video on how to appeal a PUA determination through the PUA portal.

Appeal by email

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. 

Send an email 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 (xxx-xx-1234) 
  • 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 

What happens after I appeal?

Referee Hearings

Referee Hearings during COVID-19

Referee hearings are being held by telephone during COVID-19, but your hearing of notice will confirm whether your hearing will be held in person or over the phone.

The Department’s web page about referee hearings during COVID-19 goes into more detail about the process.

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.  Both you and your employer will have an opportunity to testify and present evidence.  You should bring all relevant documentation (ex: termination letters, doctors notes, communications with supervisors) with you to the hearing.

We strongly advise that you seek legal representation for your hearing.  You have a much higher chance of winning when you attend the hearing with a representative.  You have a right to a representative in Unemployment Compensation Hearings.  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).  You can call the phone number on your Notice of Hearing with questions.  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.