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Despite unemployment benefits returning, many Pennsylvanians still struggle


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    PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (KDKA) — Beginning today, unemployed Pennsylvanians can start applying for some much-needed relief.

The program will allow people to file for unemployment for nearly three additional months.

As part of the federal CARES Act extension, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance began again and today, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation returned.

That’s a relief for many Pennsylvanians but as one local man says, there’s still a lot of confusion and hurt among those that need these benefits the most.

“It’s just really anxiety-inducing, that’s the word I’m looking for,” said Gabrial Davis of Schenley. “Up until Christmas, it was bearable because we weren’t starving.”

One month without any type of assistance and Davis, a single dad and chef, hopes relief and missing payments are on the way.

“I could start getting things back together, getting back on my feet, and now with the new funding for the PUA being approved and if that all goes smoothly, that seems to be providing people with enough to get by,” he said.

Claimants of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation haven’t been able to file claims since the end of December when both of those programs expired.

Under the federal CARES Act extension, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance returned on Friday and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation returned in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

Both programs now will allow claimants to file for an additional 11 weeks of assistance.

So many people logged on to the PUA system on Friday, the State Department of Labor and Industry said the site crashed.

Davis said that getting on the phone with someone rather than logging on online is no easier.

“I’ve tried getting in touch with them several times now,” he said. “The phone is always busy, no matter what time of day.”

Both PUA and PEUC have their own unique set of circumstances for applying for additional assistance.

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