This week I tackle the most common question, “Should I File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance after filing for Unemployment Insurance?”
This is a common and pressing question for Lyft & Uber drivers. Seems like everyone has differing opinions on the matter, including EDD officials, yet I provide expert feedback on the matter so you can make an informed decision!
I’ve already filed for unemployment. Should I re-apply for PUA?
First off, if you are receiving unemployment insurance benefits right now, then no, you do not qualify. If you aren’t receiving any benefits, I do have an answer for you.
Now, when I looked on EDD website, it seemed clear that there were some situations as to why you should and could apply for PUA after filing for UI benefits. Those situations included if you filed and received notice of employment insurance award showing zero benefits and you know that you’re self-employed or independent contractor, so you wouldn’t appeal any decisions on your UI claim.
Our Top Tips for Drivers:
If you filed UI and received a notice of status of wages stating you don’t have enough earnings to qualify for benefits and your benefit was zero, so you can apply for PUA. If you try to appeal then you should not apply for PUA and wait out the findings on that claim.
So according to the website, if you haven’t heard from EDD at all and you received the benefit, the zero benefit award notice and you haven’t requested any wage investigations, no appeals, no nothing, then definitely filed a new claim through the UI online order on the EDD website.
But I wanted to look further for you guys because there’s so many responses on the matter and honestly EDD doesn’t really know the answer themselves. Here, the Secretary for the California Labor Workforce Development Agency, Ms. Secretary Julie Su, did a live answering the question on April 24.
If you have already applied for PUA and you went through UI because we did not have the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance up yet, then what you will need to do is I’ve been saying that we’d like to be able to keep your application and not make you reapply. It is looking more and more like we will have you reapply starting on April 28th. It’ll be the fastest way to get you out of the UI system and into PUA.
Right. Then Loree Levy, Deputy Director of Public Affairs at California Employment Development Department, that’s EDD, answered a few questions on April 23rd.
I’ll paraphrase a question I’ve heard from a lot of people, particularly ride share drivers who many of them have already applied through the normal unemployment insurance program.
Now those kinds of claims know take a lot longer, can take a lot longer than the normal three week turnaround and I’ve heard from some drivers who wonder, should I just go ahead and apply for PUA because I might get my benefits sooner? They might turn around faster. Should people who’ve already applied who think that they’re misclassified, should they wait for that to keep going forward or should they go ahead and apply for PUA with the assumption that they might get money quicker?
Chances are, and again trying to still iron out all the instructions, but chances are if you’ve already got a claim in the system because you’re going to be entering into the same UI online system to apply. So chances are we’ll have a record of that, that you already have a claim initiated and we have to do some things on the backend to process that.
So I would just say that it’s, again, if you have not applied yet and you believe you truly are self-employed independent contractor, that those pool of benefits are designed to assist you and we’ll have some good information in terms of what information we have to gather from you, some proof of earnings, et cetera, to be able to make sure we can get that claim processed quickly and luckily we’re going to be able to automate a lot of that in terms of kind of the back weeks to February 2nd, so some of those initial payments should be able to arrive pretty quickly as soon as people certify.
What Levy says makes sense. Once a claim is open, you can’t cancel it and EDD is required to investigate that claim and according to Secretary Sue, she says that claim can only be canceled by a phone but there’s no way that anyone is going to get on a phone so they’re not going to be able to cancel it.
One of the reasons for this, and I know it’s incredibly frustrating. Trust me, I’m asking a lot of questions about why things are a certain way and it is this system that we’re built on.
So one reason I say that is the most logical answer to this would be that you could go back online and cancel your application, right? You can just pull it back or you can take out April 28th and transfer it to PUA but our system doesn’t allow that. So the only way that you can actually cancel an application you’ve already made is to call and do that by phone.
So we don’t want to. That’s not the best way to do this at this time, knowing what’s happening on the phone lines, so we’re going to say that we will have you reapply for PUA next week when PUA is stood up.
I’m thinking of like with the last wave of people who filed claims on Tuesday, getting paid Wednesday, Thursday, that the PUA system is going to be very popular. I do believe in many cases that receiving UI claim is better because you could potentially bring home more money a week. For folks that have been waiting over a month now, there’s just no doubt that you should not be applying for PUA. Unemployment is going to make a decision on which program you are going to be in, in the first place and I get it. There’s some people who just cannot wait. They have to get something. Even if they were misclassified, even if they could get more money from UIA claim, they’re going to go for the PUA because they need to get some money quickly. My thing is there’s so much information out there, please resource this yourself.
It’s so much easier to ask somebody what they think but you’ve got to make the decision for yourself. Our lives are like a by-product while the decisions that we make good and bad and I know there’s a lot of people out there that’d be willing to give you advice and get your views and your engagement because it’s trendy. At the end of the day, we’re creators and we want people to see our work.
This is your real life and I respect that and I try to bring as many facts to the table for you to make the best decision possible and that comes with a lot of responsibility I feel. But you have the responsibility to take this information and to make a decision that will work for you because if something happens, you’re the one that lives with the outcome.
So with that being said, considered both scenarios because what it seems like for people who have filed for UI and they haven’t begun to investigate, that once you apply for the PUA, they will switch it over.
If you are already in the throws of an investigation, they’ve been talking to you, they’ve been talking to your former employer, they’re requesting information and wages, it’s likely that that investigation will continue and then they will let you know if you belong in the UI box with a PUA box but they make that decision. Applying on a certain day or whatever doesn’t make a difference. Everything comes to the same website. Every single time you apply, there’s somebody to see your name on it, with your account information and that are all going to be rectified and streamlined in some way.
Just don’t do anything that would make the process worse for you because the more you take away from what’s going on and you add the twist and turns, the different files and filing information and all that kind of stuff, it takes longer for whoever that gets your file to go through it and streamline it and pay you out.
Great thing about this is that once everything is in place, your pay will be retroactive to the date that you became unemployed and you receive the CARES Act money all the way back to February, I believe. So, that’d be a good thing, especially for people who’ve been waiting.
If you have any questions for me, let me know in the comments or contact me on Facebook or YouTube and good luck with everything.
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