Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Now Available

Representative Andrea Salinas

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Good news for the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers – the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits are now available! Yesterday, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) announced that they are now accepting applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which is an expansion of unemployment benefits under the federal CARES Act.

OED has created an extensive guide to filling out the application, which you can find on their website here. I have also included answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the PUA. If anything is not clear or if you need assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office.



Andrea Salinas, State Representative

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Am I eligible for the PUA?

Oregonians who are eligible for this program include individuals who do not qualify for or cannot collect benefits on a regular unemployment insurance claim. This includes:

  • Self-employed, 1099 contract workers, and gig workers
  • Employees whose wages are not reported for unemployment insurance
  • Employees who have not earned enough wages or worked enough hours for regular unemployment benefits, and
  • People who were going to start work but could not.

Filing for the first time?

Self-employed, contract, and gig workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits who are filing for the first time should use the instructions and initial application form on the top of the CARES Act Page (see yellow buttons for English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian languages) to complete their first claim. Additional certifications will be required for each week you continue to be out of work due to COVID-19, and more information about those certifications will be posted on the Cares Act Page in the coming days. 

Already filed initial and weekly claims?

Self-employed, contract, and gig workers who have already filed initial and weekly claims and have an established PIN should complete the PUA application and certification process at (English) or the (Spanish).

The Department believes that there are around 10,000 PUA workers who have already filed applications, and they will try to reach out to everyone to let them know that they need to reapply.

How can I submit my PUA application?

  • E-mail: You can email to request a secure email link, then attach your PUA application and weekly claim reports to the secure email. Please only use the secure e-mail link the department sends to provide personal identifying information relevant to your claim.
  • Mail: You can mail your PUA application and weekly claim reports to Oregon Employment Department at P.O. Box 14165, Salem, OR 97311.
  • Fax: OED has several fax machines linked to the 503-371-2893 fax number for your PUA application and weekly claim reports.

What are the benefit levels?

The minimum weekly benefit is $205, and the maximum benefit is $648 depending on your income level. Everyone eligible for PUA will receive at least $205 a week.

Am I also eligible for the extra $600 a week while on PUA?

If you are eligible for PUA, you are also eligible for the additional $600 per week included in the CARES Act. The $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits will automatically be paid to you in a separate payment. If you are not eligible for PUA in a particular week, you will not receive the $600 FPUC payment for that week either. FPUC is potentially payable for the weeks March 29, 2020, through July 25, 2020.

Are PUA benefits retroactive?

Yes! Benefits are retroactive to the date you were eligible. You will not lose benefits due to delays in developing the application process or processing your claim.

When can I expect to receive my first PUA check?

It can take anywhere from 1-4 weeks to process the initial claim. On a call with OED yesterday, they did warn us that the new application process for PUA is still largely manual, but they are working to automate the system as quickly as possible. While frustrating, the department made the decision that it was better to start processing claims as soon as possible, even if that meant everything wouldn’t be fully automated. I will continue to provide updates about processing timelines, because I know the uncertainty adds to already high stress levels.

Additionally, payments from the PUA program will start like regular unemployment payments with a paper check. Applicants can sign up for direct deposit once their claim is processed.

Read other frequently asked questions here.

I have heard from many of you that navigating unemployment insurance has been a fraught and confusing process. We have been advised to share that if you find yourself unable to answer all the questions that are asked on the application, do your best to file, and OED will contact you if they need more information. Please do not wait until you can get answers via phone or email. 

I also know that many of you have struggled to get in touch with OED. Emailing their dedicated COVID-19 inbox,, is still the recommended option for submitting questions. However, the department did tell legislators yesterday that the number of email inquires has overwhelmed their system. They are working hard to quickly train the hundreds of new staffers to improve the response rate, but for now, email response times are taking over a week.

The department also told us that in normal times, it typically takes three weeks to receive an UI payment, but due to the current influx of applications, some individuals are now receiving payments on week four or five. This delay in processing is distressing, and I know Oregonians need the money sooner rather than later. Legislators are continuing to push for better outcomes.

Again, if you have any questions or challenges navigating PUA or unemployment insurance (UI), please do not hesitate to contact me at

Reminder: COVID-19 Town Hall Tomorrow

As a reminder, tomorrow from 6-7:00pm, Rep. Prusak and I will be hosting a virtual town hall with Linda Roman, Deputy Legislative Director for Governor Brown, and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Health Officer & State Epidemiologist. We will be discussing the Governor’s plans for reopening the state, and the science and data that will be informing her decision. We hope to see you there!

Date: Thursday, April 30th, 2020 from 6:00-7:00pm.

How to register:

Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation with information on how to join the meeting.

Asking Questions: To make the most of our time together, I ask that you please email your questions in advance to

Emergency Board Allocates Over $30 Million

In my last newsletter, I shared that the Emergency Board would meet to consider various funding requests from Governor Brown and legislative leadership. Last Thursday, the board approved critical investments that prioritized frontline workers, domestic abuse survivors, and small business owners.

Some of the highlights of the funding they passed includes:

  • Housing – safe shelter and rental assistance - $12 million
  • Small Business Assistance - $10 million
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence Resources - $2 million
  • Oregon Worker Relief Fund - $10 million
  • Long Term Care Worker Testing and Training - $3.35 million
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund - $300 million federal funds authorization

While the funds available to the Emergency Board are limited, these action items are a good first step to help Oregonians and complement the federal relief assistance coming to Oregon.

If you are interested in watching the recorded Emergency Board meeting, you can do that here, and you can read the meeting materials on OLIS.

Auto Insurance Rebates

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has been working with auto insurance companies to provide insurance premium refunds and credits to Oregonians, because there is a reduced risk of auto accidents under Stay Home, Save Lives. The division encourages all carriers to consider providing refunds that reflect the reduced risk of auto liabilities due to the emergency order. You can go here to find the list of the insurance companies that have committed to provide refunds and credits to Oregon customers.

If you have questions about your auto insurance premium refund or about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance company.

If you have issues with an insurance company or agent, contact the division’s advocacy team one of three ways:

  • Visit:
  • Email:
  • Call: 888-877-4894 (toll-free)

Antibody Testing

I have received many questions regarding antibody testing. The Oregon Health Authority shared this article “that is a good primer on the current state of the science on serology and antibody testing for COVID-19.” You can read it here.

Useful Websites

Considering how quickly the news can change, I wanted to share some useful websites where you can find up to date information.

  • Oregon's Office of Emergency Management has created a new website with information about COVID-19.
  • The Oregon Education Department also has a new site for COVID-19 updates.
  • The Oregon Health Authority posts daily updates about testing results and hospital capacity. You can find those updates along with information about demographics, modeling projections, and more here.
  • Senator Merkley’s COVID-19 website is regularly updated and is a great resource for anything relating to federal action. He also has a dedicated Business and 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Online Economic Recovery Hub, which you can find here.
  • Governor Brown’s COVID-19 page has FAQs, resources, and information about her executive orders.

email: I phone: 503-986-1438
address: 900 Court St NE, H-485, Salem, OR, 97301