New Eligibility Conditions for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) issued guidance establishing three additional COVID-19 impact scenarios under which certain individuals may self-certify to establish eligibility for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, including:

  1. Individuals who refuse to return to work that is unsafe or to accept an offer of new work that is unsafe.

  2. Applies to workers who had already been receiving unemployment benefits but were determined to be ineligible or disqualified because they refused an offer of work at a worksite that was not in compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19.

  3. Certain individuals providing services to educational institutions or educational service agencies.

  4. Applies to school employees working without a contract or reasonable assurance of continued employment who face reduced paychecks and no assurance of continued pay when schools are closed due to COVID-19.

  5. Individuals experiencing a reduction of hours or a temporary or permanent layoff.

  6. Applies to those who have been laid off because the place of employment is partially closed, or the individual has experienced a reduction in hours.

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (DWS) is notifying individuals of the new eligibility conditions by paper mail and email. Per the federal guidance, states must notify every individual who was denied for any week of PUA because they were not eligible under the COVID-19 related reasons available at the time. Therefore, many individuals will receive the notice, including those who are no longer filing for PUA, and those who are currently approved and receiving PUA payments. No action is required unless the individual chooses to apply for PUA under one of the new eligibility conditions.

The PUA system has been updated to make the new eligibility conditions available for applicants to select when filing claims. New and returning applicants must verify their identity if they have not already done so. Now, applicants can verify ID online using a link provided through their PUA account. Individuals who need assistance logging in to their PUA account may call 1-844-908-2178.

In addition, DWS will be hosting drive-through PUA ID verification events at five locations across the state for individuals who are unable to verify their ID online or who otherwise need to present their state-issued ID or driver’s license for verification in person. The events will take place May 10th – May 14th at the following locations: Little Rock, Jonesboro, Hot Springs, Fayetteville, Pine Bluff. Location details are listed at the link below. The Little Rock event will last two weeks, so it will continue into the following week and end on May 21st. Individuals must sign up for a timeslot to attend a PUA ID verification event at the following link: https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/news-info/calendar/.