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Department of Labor releases Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ

May 05, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The Department of Labor released an FAQ April 27 that addresses common questions about work search and job refusal when an individual receives Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, which became law March 27. The program provides financial assistance to unemployed or partially unemployed individuals, including dentists and dental team members, who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance and who are unable to work as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CARES Act’s Unemployment Insurance Provisions section, those reasons include:

• An individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis. This includes if a member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or if they are providing care for a family or household member with the disease.
• If the individual is a primary caregiver for a child or other member in the household needing care due to a school or facility closing as a direct result of COVID-19.
• The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine of if they have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
• The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19.
• The individual is now the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
• The individual has to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19.
• The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The ADA has received numerous questions from members about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Labor addresses many of the ADA members’ concerns in the FAQ. Here are two examples from the 57-question FAQ:

Question No. 49: "Is an individual who refuses an offer of work eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?"

Answer: “No, unless the individual is unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19. Eligibility for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] requires that the individual be able to work and available to work within the meaning of applicable state law, unless the individual is unable or unavailable to accept the offer of work because of a reason listed” in the CARES Act.

Question No. 50: "If the jurisdiction’s stay at home order due to the COVID-19 emergency is lifted and an employer has called his or her employees back to work, is an individual who refuses to return to work due to a general fear of exposure to the coronavirus still eligible for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance]?"

Answer: To qualify for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance], the individual “must be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason listed in [the CARES Act]. An individual who does not go to work due to general concerns about exposure to COVID-19, and who does not meet any of the other COVID-19 related criteria for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance], is not eligible for [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] because general concerns about exposure to COVID-19 is not one of the reasons listed" in the guidance."

For the latest information on COVID-19, visit ADA.org/virus.