Pandemic unemployment benefits end: Here’s how Pennsylvanians can still get help

PENNSYLVANIA — That extra $300 a week that unemployment recipients have been getting came to an end.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment relief benefits expired, meaning the last week for recipients to apply was Sunday. Nearly 560,000 Pennsylvanians will be impacted.

>>RELATED STORY: Here’s how to file for unemployment in Pennsylvania

The programs ending include the following:

  • (PEUC) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance, which extended benefits for those whose regular employment ran out
  • (PUA) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provided benefits to the self-employed
  • (FPUC) Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which provided that extra $300 a week to most unemployment recipients

A blow to those struggling

It’s a blow to those still struggling, especially after the trouble so many have faced applying and getting benefits through the PA Unemployment Compensation System.

“It’s been a struggle from day one. I’d get a lump sum, and then I wouldn’t get it. I have had nothing but problems,” said Robin Woods, who lost her job of 20 years right in the middle of the pandemic.

Woods is among those who will lose that $300 a week in extra compensation. She said she has mixed feelings about the program ending, because it’s helped many in need, but she is concerned about businesses having trouble finding employees.

Help still available

The state Department of Labor and Industry said there are many resources available for those in need.

The Department of Human Services offers a variety of assistance programs, including the following:

  • The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Child Care Works (CCW) subsidized child care

Applications for ERAP, Medicaid, SNAP and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us. SNAP and Medical Assistance applications can also be submitted over the phone by calling 1-866-550-4355.

Applying for Regular Unemployment Compensation

Woods said she continues to experience difficulties applying for her regular unemployment compensation.

The latest issue was her attempt to sign up for Verify.me, the state’s new identity theft protection component for unemployment. She went to her local library and her state representative for help, but still couldn’t get it to work.

“We tried over and over again. We did the whole facial scan, and it will not verify me,” she said.

A PA Unemployment Compensation customer service representative helped her to apply for her benefits this past week, but she is not sure what to do moving forward.

Woods wrote to Verify.me for help but got a generic email response with tips, which have not helped. 11 Investigates also contacted Verify.me, and we are still waiting for a response.

Moving on

Woods said she will be glad when she no longer needs to apply for unemployment. She is working on establishing her own business teaching biking safety in her community.