Why Arkansans may no longer qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Some people in Arkansas may have issues qualifying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance this time around.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program website reopened last Friday and since then, some people are having issues getting their checks.

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said the phone lines have been backed up ever since. If wait times are long, he still recommends staying on the line or trying www.ARunemployment.com.

“If you can be patient and bear with us. I do know that the call center is fully staffed and answering those as they come in,” Preston said.

But some people may have issues qualifying for PUA this time around. Preston said this is because when Congress passed the new legislation in December, it ended the old PUA program and established new guidelines.

“There were some 40 changes from the old program to the new program,” Preston said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot who are kind of caught in limbo in terms of unemployment because they’d exhausted their benefits going into the end of the year.”

If you were on PEUC and you exhausted before the extension in December and you moved to PUA because you exhausted your PEUC, you may qualify for more weeks under PEUC. Instead of continuing to file for PUA, you should reopen your PEUC claim.

PEUC is an extended benefits program for people who exhausted regular employment.

“Instead of allowing people to go directly to PUA and start qualifying for that, they have to go back to traditional unemployment because there were additional weeks added for the pandemic unemployment extended benefits program,” Preston said. 

Most people should qualify for an additional $300 per week through mid-March under PEUC.

“So, we’re trying to direct people who fall in that category to go back to the traditional UI, get qualified for those extended weeks, and then once you utilize those weeks, then you can transition to the PUA,” he said.

Preston also wants to remind people that do qualify for PUA to make sure they submit their ID. Around 60,000 people that qualify were sent an e-mail and a link to upload it. Do not reply to the email with your ID.

“Make sure to check your spam filter that the email didn’t go into there,” Preston said.

It can take 24 to 48 hours after you have verified your ID for it to process.