CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Starting on Friday, April 24, Ohioans who are unemployed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but didn’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits, can begin pre-registering for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The PUA is a new federal program that covers many more categories of workers, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced today.
To pre-register for PUA benefits, Ohioans should visit unemployment.ohio.gov and click on “Get Started Now.”
The benefit amount will be similar to traditional unemployment benefits, plus an additional $600 per week through July 25.
The pre-registration tool will allow individuals to get in line early and pre-register their account, so that as soon as the agency has the technical ability to process their claims in May, they can log in and complete their paperwork.
Frank Sperandeo drives for Uber and Lyft.
He says he normally made around $800 dollars a week, working 35 hours. But, he stopped driving all together last month, when he started having car trouble. He didn’t want to commit to paying for the fix in this uncertain time.
Now, he like hundreds of other private contractors, are not bringing in anything at all.
Because of such low demand for their services, they’re basically unemployed, but they don’t qualify for unemployment.
“It just makes me feel a little worried, think all of us are in limbo,” he said.
Director Hall says the PUA is meant to help people who were out of work because of the pandemic.
Money could even go to those who exhausted their unemployment benefits before the pandemic.
Think about it as the catch-all for people who aren’t eligible for regular unemployment...
But, Sperandeo is worried about whether the catch-all will indeed catch drivers, because ride share companies are in fact open.
“There’s just a lot of ambiguity,” he said. “We just want some clarity.”
When we reached out for clarity from the unemployment office, a spokesperson said:
“While there are no guarantees in life, the categories of who is eligible for the PUA program is extensive. Please see the info [where] we list those categories on our newly revamped unemployment.ohio.gov website. Please note that there is no minimum earnings someone has to have to qualify. Thanks.”
This program will provide benefits to the following categories of workers:
- Those who were self-employed, worked part-time, or do not otherwise qualify for regular unemployment benefits and fit one of the categories below
- Those unable to reach their place of employment because of quarantine
- Those unable to reach their place of employment because they have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
- Those whose place of employment is closed because of COVID-19
- Those who were scheduled to start work but who no longer have a job because of COVID-19
- Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Those with a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Those providing care to a family or household member with COVID-19
- Those with primary caregiving responsibilities for children or others who are unable to attend school or another facility due to COVID-19
For those eligible, PUA benefits will be retroactive to the date they qualified, as early as February 2. The program will provide up to 39 weeks of benefits to many who historically have not qualified for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers, 1099 tax filers, part-time workers, and those who lack sufficient work history.
Individuals who have exhausted all regular unemployment and any weekly extensions also may be eligible for the program. Anyone with questions should call (833) 604-0774.