How to apply for unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico?

Millions of workers in the United States, including people from Puerto Rico, have been left without a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are seeking to apply for unemployment insurance. In response to this crisis that has affected both the economy and the country’s unemployment rate and health status, the federal government has decreed a series of economic stimuli. These include the delivery of $600 to the unemployed, in addition to the flexibility of both unemployment benefits and their duration.

Of course, this scenario has created a great sense of anxiety in the region, causing many to wonder how to apply for unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico and how long the whole procedure takes. In view of this, we have decided to make a practical guide that will try to clarify the most frequent doubts.

Editor’s note: The special benefits granted to citizens by the federal government to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic ended on September 6, 2021. This decision affected more than 8 million unemployed throughout the country.

Although these special benefits have ended, it is still possible to apply to receive the regular unemployment benefit, as it existed before the pandemic. To do this, each state has its own rules and requirements.

Keep reading: Unemployment phone number

What is unemployment?

Unemployment is a labor situation in which a skilled and capable person does not have a paid position, that is, they are unemployed. However, unemployment is also an economic factor regulated, to a great extent, by the Fed (Federal Reserve System). Normally, a high unemployment rate is a headache for any country because it leads to lower consumption by citizens and lower profits for companies.

The combination of these two elements has a direct impact on the price of products, on supply and demand and, of course, on the economic growth of a specific region.. In addition, it usually also has a very painful impact on families who now lose their ability to pay for loans already acquired and, consequently, fall into a dangerous situation in which they could lose their quality of life and even their home.

How to apply for unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico?

Who pays unemployment in Puerto Rico?

Although the Department of Labor and Human Resources of each state of the United States is the one who transfers the unemployment insurance benefits, the truth is that the financing comes from a series of federal and state taxes that are charged to both employees and their employers.

This financing method is designed so that, in the event that a person loses their livelihood through no fault of their own, they can support themselves for a set period of time (usually 12 to 26 weeks maximum) while they get a new job.

How to apply for unemployment in Puerto Rico?

Apply for unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico in times of pandemic it is quite similar to any other state in the United States, including the District of Columbia. But let’s see it in detail.

#1 Check if eligibility requirements are met

According to him Department of Labor and Human Resources of Puerto Rico (also known as PR DOL) The first thing a person should do when they lose their job due to the mandatory closure due to the Coronavirus is verify that you meet the eligibility conditions to apply for unemployment benefits, that is, any of these:

  • Be a regular or part-time employee who does not receive any financial compensation during the mandatory closure.
  • Be a regular or part-time employee whose work hours have been reduced due to lockdown measures.
  • Temporary employee who is not currently working due to or as a result of the pandemic.

Unemployment benefits are currently not available to independent contractors or self-employed workers, such as Uber drivers. In any case, the PR DOL will inform as soon as it is decided to activate the benefits for this sector of society. And it will also announce what is the procedure to apply.

How to qualify for unemployment in Puerto Rico?

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, employees are not required to use up their vacation or sick leave. However, if this worker receives financial compensation during the closing days, either for vacation or sick leave, they may not receive unemployment benefits, since, as the PR DOL sees it, it would be a double compensation.

Those employees who have not been working when the state of emergency was declared and who were already receiving benefits from the State Insurance Fund are not eligible to receive the economic aid amounts of the pandemic unemployment insurance. Thus, it could be argued that unemployment benefits are available only to qualified employees who could, but do not, work during the weeks claimed.

Note: Employees also cannot claim Temporary Non-Work Disability Insurance (SINOT) and unemployment insurance benefits at the same time. An employee with a temporary disability can only claim SINOT benefits for the duration of the disability status.

#2 Apply for unemployment benefits

The initial claim for unemployment benefits in Puerto Rico can be apply online by visiting this link. Yes indeed. Take into account that you should carefully review the information you send to the agency, since any mistake could delay the evaluation process of your case.

People who have completed their unemployment application should wait to receive the corresponding documents in the mail and follow the instructions detailed in them.

Advice: People interested in receiving unemployment benefits through the direct deposit modality must complete the Authorization for Direct Deposit form that is on the PR DOL website. Remember that, together with the delivery of the form, you must attach certain evidence of your employment status.

Note: If you need to know where it is the nearest unemployment office to your home, be sure to see our list.

#3 Make weekly claims

Employees who have already filed the initial claim and want or need to claim the following weeks of benefits, can make the certification through the official website. The interested You can also make this claim through the PR DOL user service system. by calling 787-625-7900.

It is important to note that employees will not lose their benefits for not claiming the following weeks of the corresponding period. However, this exception only applies from March 15, 2020 onwards..

How much does unemployment pay in Puerto Rico?

An employee’s weekly benefits will be determined based on the highest salary reported during the last four calendar quarters. The amount that this employee will receive each week will be established according to the table of benefits of the Regulations for Managing the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Nowadays, the minimum unemployment benefit in Puerto Rico is $33 and the maximum is $190 per week. Soon, an additional benefit of $600 for one week will come into force, in addition to the extension of the time of benefits.

#4 Change unemployment claims

If you need it, an employee can change an existing unemployment claim. In what cases? Mostly in the following:

  • To change a claim from partial to full, employees must send their names as they appear on the claim and a contact number to the following email address: consulta@trabajo.pr.gov.
  • If an employee believes their initial unemployment claim contains errors, you must email the information you want to correct to the same address. In this case, employees will need to provide their full name as it appears on the document and a contact number. Thus, the PR DOL will be able to communicate with them, if necessary. To protect the confidentiality of the information provided, employees should avoid including their Social Security numbers in this email.

How to cancel unemployment in Puerto Rico?

If you recently returned to work or found another job, you must inform the PR DOL when generating your next payment order. If you don’t, you could run the risk of being penalized.

How to appeal or request reconsideration of the determination made by PR DOL?

If the PR DOL determines that an employee is not eligible to receive unemployment benefits, the worker has the right to file an appeal and provide evidence confirming your salary or the job position you used to fill with your last employer.

If the employee disagrees with the determination of the amount of the benefits, they can send a request for reconsideration to consulta@trabajo.pr.gov. You can do the same in case you have any complaint related to the approval or not of your benefits, including the time or weeks of transfers.

Note: Employees typically have 15 days from the date they receive the determination letter to request reconsideration or appeal the PR DOL’s decision. However, due to the pandemic, this time period has been temporarily suspended.

Frequently Asked Questions About Puerto Rico Unemployment Benefits

If you have any questions about unemployment benefits in Puerto Rico, be sure to visit our frequently asked questions section.

How long do I have to claim unemployment in Puerto Rico?

When a worker loses a job or sees their pay or work hours reduced due to the pandemic, you should contact the PR DOL as soon as possible to apply for your benefits. The earlier the procedure begins, the faster the case will be evaluated and the approved money will arrive.

How long does it take for the unemployment check to arrive?

Take into account that it takes between 2-3 weeks from the introduction of the first claim for employees to receive unemployment check. However, many citizens have reported that this payment could take more than a month due to increased demand.

How to apply for the $600 unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico?

The $600 benefit belongs to the temporary program “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act”. The program itself is called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and establishes a maximum benefit of 39 weeks. In this case, the eligibility conditions are relaxed and include independent or self-employed contractors.

Following this same line, Puerto Ricans who have been directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 they would start receiving the $600 from Saturday, April 25, 2020 until July 25 of the same year.

Now, in essence, Puerto Rican workers do not have to do anything to apply for that extra $600, since the system is designed to add them automatically to federal pandemic unemployment compensation.

Thus, what they must do is submit their application to the PUA and wait for the eligibility determination, claiming, of course, every week that they are unemployed. For more information to apply for unemployment insurance in Puerto Rico, be sure to visit this section of the PUA.

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