Normally, self-employed people and independent contractors would not be eligible for unemployment benefits in Minnesota. But the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020 – created a new program to provide benefits specifically for these people.
This program, called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), provides weekly benefit payments, just like regular unemployment insurance (UI). It specifically provides benefits to people who would not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits, including:
It’s important to understand that PUA is a brand new program that did not exist before the CARES Act became law. It includes a complex system of new eligibility considerations and factors that our regular UI system never considered. We cannot use the same technology, data or processes that we use for regular UI to pay PUA benefits.
Our regular UI system, for example, operates on a foundation of eligibility rules and income information. PUA, on the other hand, is for a new group of people that DEED does not have income data for. To solve that problem, we created a new partnership with the Department of Revenue to expedite verification of income while also preventing fraud.
As of Friday, April 24, DEED has begun the process of making payments to people who are eligible for PUA. We’ve processed initial payments for more than 10,000 people already, and more will be coming every day.
Because of the program’s complexity and the fact that it had to be created from the ground up in less than one month, it is going to take some time to get PUA benefits out to everyone who is eligible. But we’ve prioritized getting this done because we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented and unexpected challenges to so many Minnesotans.
Our team is working around the clock to get this right for everyone who is eligible. Minnesota is proudly one of the first states in the nation to fully implement all three programs of the CARES Act, which also included the additional $600 FPUC weekly payments and the PEUC 13-week extension, which we implemented earlier this month.
Lastly, here are a few things you should know: