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Step 1: Apply for Traditional Unemployment

Apply for traditional unemployment (UI) first, and wait until you have received notice that you have been denied for UI before apply for PUA.  See the steps for this in the section titled "Steps to Get Traditional Unemployment".  DWS requires that you are denied for UI before you can be considered for PUA.

Step 2: Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Apply for PUA online or by phone (at 844-908-2178).  Note that, if you apply by phone, you will still have to submit your documents (see Step 3) online, so it is best to apply online if you are able.  After submitting your application, you should get an email with information on getting into your PUA account.

Step 3: Submit Proper Documentation

At the end of your PUA application, you will need to submit different documentation, depending on your situation.  You can also upload these documents after submitting your application if you go into your PUA account.  This usually means taking a picture (or scanning, if you have access to a scanner) of your documents and uploading them to your PUA account.  

  • UI Denial Letter: Everyone who applies needs to upload a copy of their UI denial letter to show that they previously applied for and were denied for UI (see above).

  • A copy of your most recent tax return: Although not everyone is required to upload a copy of their most recent tax return when they apply, it is a good idea to do this because it means that you will be considered for a higher benefit amount if your application is approved.  It may also serve for other documentation needs, depending on your circumstances.

  • Any other documentation that you think will be helpful.  Depending on your reasons for qualifying for PUA, DWS may require additional documentation.  

We have heard from many claimants that they are being asked to provide “additional documentation” for their PUA claims, even for those who were receiving PUA payments before.  It is best not to wait to provide this documentation if you know you will need to do so as this can delay you receiving benefits.

Proof of Employment or Wages: Depending on your circumstances and how you are eligible for PUA, you may be asked to provide proof of your prior employment or self-employment or that you planned to start a job.  You also may be asked to prove your wages from the last year, usually done by providing a copy of your most recent tax return.  For more information on specific documents you can use for proof of employment and proof of wages, click here.

COVID-19 Impact Statement: You may also be asked to provide a “COVID-19 impact statement”.  This is essentially a letter in which you explain how COVID-19 has prevented you from working or caused you to lose hours for work.  It is to your benefit to be as clear and detailed as possible with this letter.  You will need to sign the letter, as well.

For most people, the easiest way to send in this documentation is to take a picture of the requested document and upload it to your PUA account online, but you can also send these in by email (to, by fax (to 501-325-9650), or by mail to:

PUA Documents 

P.O. Box 8120 

Little Rock, AR 72203-8120

Step 4: Submit Proof of Identity

After you have applied, you will be required to submit proof of your identity.  This was not always required for PUA, but any new applicants will be required to do so. Officially, everyone who has applied or will apply for PUA should receive an email from “” to the email listed in your PUA account, asking you to provide a picture of your ID to verify. 

Step 5: While You Are Waiting

While waiting to hear back, get paperwork together that shows why you lost your job or lost hours in case you need it later.  Answer any follow-up questions from DWS.  Keep copies (or take pictures) of all the paperwork you give to DWS.  Keep track of any contact you have with DWS, including over the phone.

Step 6: File a Weekly Claim

File a weekly claim for PUA every week, even if you have not yet been approved or have been denied and are awaiting appeal. You can file weekly claims online in your PUA account or by phone (at 844-908-2178).

Important Note: A claim is different from an application. An application tells DWS you want to get qualified for unemployment benefits. A claim tells DWS that you were unemployed in a particular week. If you don’t file a claim, you cannot get paid for that week.

Step 7: If You Get Denied

If you get denied or get less than you should, you can appeal. See "How to Appeal" for more information.