Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Notice: Federal guidance requires individuals who are filing for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to provide the reason they are unemployed due to COVID-19. Because of changes to the questionnaire, weekly certifications for PUA must be completed online beginning Sunday, June 28. The option to file a PUA weekly certification by phone is no longer available. If you need assistance filing a weekly certification, contact the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259.

Applying for PUA Tip Sheet

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance line: 866-847-7209.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

North Carolina independent contractors and self-employed workers out of work because of COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance beginning Friday, April 24 at 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, is a federal program for people who are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 and not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers and independent contractors. 

What is PUA?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, is a federal program for people who are unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19 and are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, such as independent contractors or self-employed workers.

How to Apply

Apply at beginning April 24, 2020.

  • If you do not have an unemployment claim effective in April, sign into your online account and click on the File a New Unemployment Insurance Claim link so we can determine your eligibility for state unemployment benefits. If you were laid off or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you will also apply for PUA while filing your claim.
  • If you applied and were denied for state unemployment benefits before April 24, we may need additional information to determine whether you are eligible for PUA. Sign into your online account and click on the ‘Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ link to complete the process. If your claim is listed as ‘pending,’ we are still reviewing your eligibility for state unemployment benefits. You may not apply for PUA while your claim is pending.
  • If you are currently receiving state unemployment benefits, you are not eligible for PUA.

PUA Payments

If there are no issues with your claim, payment should be issued approximately 14 days after you file for PUA.

To receive payments, you must complete a Weekly Certification for every week you file for benefits. In your Weekly Certification, report any wages you earned during that week.

For benefit weeks ending April 4 through July 25, 2020, an additional $600 in weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be paid with your PUA benefits. You do not need to apply separately for these payments.

Any benefits owed for previous weeks will be paid retroactively.

Tips for Applying for PUA

1. DES recommends you upload all necessary documents with your application before you click ‘Submit.’ However, you can submit your application even if documents, such as tax returns, are not yet available.

If you do not have your documents when you start your application, you can save your work and come back to it when you are ready to submit all of your information. Failure to provide documentation could result in an individual being provided the minimum weekly benefit amount for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.   

Examples of documents to show past employment and income:

  • 2019 Tax Returns
  • Recent Paycheck Stubs
  • Bank Receipts
  • 1099s
  • Billing statements, notices
  • Business licenses
  • Contracts, invoices, ledgers

Examples of documents to show COVID-19 as the reason for loss of work:

  • Documentation from medical professionals related to diagnosis or isolation instructions
  • Notices from school or childcare providers
  • Notices from county or state government regarding business closures or stay at home orders
  • Documentation that a job offer or need for your services was cancelled or delayed because of COVID-19

2. If you’re a 1099 employee, list the name and address displayed on your 1099 when completing the last employer section on your application.

On the Employment History page, select Add North Carolina Employer.








On the next page, self-employed workers and independent contractors should click on the green Manual Entry button.








On the Manual Entry page:

Enter the name and address you use for work purposes. (i.e., Joe Claimant or Joe Claimant’s Business)

Upload your proof of income before submitting your claim.












3. Complete your Weekly Certifications for every week you are filing for benefits.

A Weekly Certification is a series of yes/no questions that helps determine your eligibility for benefits each week. If you do not complete a Weekly Certification, you will not be considered for payment.

Log into your online account to complete your Weekly Certification.