*We are using an estimate for unemployment benefits based on annualized salary. While this number is a good indicator, we suggest you talk to your state's unemployment office for exact eligibility requirements and calculations.
Many self-employed workers, freelancers, and others not covered by regular unemployment are now eligible to receive unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Act (PUA).
Traditionally, the self-employed have not been able to receive unemployment, as they do not pay the government unemployment insurance. However, in light of the economic situation and shut-downs, the federal government has changed the policy to include the self-employed, freelancers, and gig-workers.
Despite the new policy, many are still struggling to file and receive PUA benefits.
A disappointedly high number of states have yet to set up the systems needed to process new types of unemployment claims. Others are not telling applicants what they need for their claims to be approved or making them jump through other hoops. And good luck getting through to a human to help you!
This level of chaos has created unnecessary confusion and stress for workers just trying to get the benefits they receive.
We have a breakdown on how to file for PUA benefits, the amount you can expect to receive, and all the information you need to navigate this challenging process.
1099 and "gig" workers
Workers in jobs or earning money not covered by regular unemployment benefits.
Workers with less wage history or income than is typically required.
Workers who were going to start work but were prevented due to COVID
The amount of benefits you receive depends on both your state and prior earnings. Unemployment takes place at the state level and each state has there own formula for determining unemployment. Typically, it amounts to around 40-50% of your typical earnings-- up to the state maximum.
In addition to state benefits, if you are eligible for PUA, you will receive an additional $600 per week under the CARES Act. You will only receive this supplemental pay until July 31st.
You can use our calculator to get a personalized result on the amount of benefits you can expect to receive.
The CARES ACT increased the amount of time people are able to draw from unemployment benefits.
Similar to unemployment benefits, each state sets their own cap on how long the unemployed can draw checks. Before the stimulus bill, generous states had a cap of 26 weeks, or 6.5 months. Less generous states such as Florida or North Carolina only allotted 12 weeks.
The stimulus bill increased the unemployment period by adding 13 weeks to each state's unemployment period, up to 29 weeks.
Some states have developed a separate PUA portal for the self-employed, freelance, and gig workers.
However, in most states, you will need to apply for standard unemployment benefits first. Once you are rejected for standard unemployment, you will be evaluated to see if you meet the criteria for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Depending on your state you will either be automatically checked to see if you qualify for PUA or told you may now apply for PUA benefits now that your claim has been rejected.
You can see the best website to apply in your state, at a table further down the article. You can also use our calculator to get not only your potential benefit amount, but also the steps to file for PUA in your state.
Not all states are currently paying out PUA funds. You can see the status of your state below. Regardless of whether your state is paying benefits, you should go ahead and reply to avoid a longer wait.
What you need to file for PUA
Social security number
Your social security number
Work history for the past 18-to-24 months (if self employed for entire period, list yourself as the employer)
Your residential/mailing address
Your telephone number
Your email address
Your birth date
Your bank account and routing numbers
You will then need to prove your income, which for many gig and freelancers can be
Here are the ways you can verify your self-employment or freelance earnings:
W-2 earnings from any traditional employment
2019 1099 form
2019 tax return
Many have been without income for months. The passage of the CAREs Act and PUA program came as a relief to many self-employed workers who weren't sure how they were going to get by.
Yet, we are now in the middle of May and many haven't seen a single cent. Why are states being so slow to issue PUA benefits?
While traditional unemployment funds have been held up by the mass influx of the unemployed, PUA funds have been held up due to uncertainty and no infrastructure to process different types of applicants.
States first had to receive guidelines from the Labor Department on who exactly qualified. After receiving guidelines, States had to train their already strapped staff and decide how they would handle new applicants (Should they apply for standard unemployment? Will there be a separate portal?)
Finally, states had to work on getting outdated computer systems ready to process applications that would usually be turned down for not meeting requirements.
While there have been significant delays in many states, they are slowly but surely fixing the systems and getting benefits to the self-employed, freelancers, and gig workers who need them.
|State||Unemployment Portal For PUA|
Each industry has a career arc, but not all industries are created equal. Which ones are the worst and why?Read More
We researched the Living Wage for each state in the U.S., and mapped it out.Read More
We scoured U.S. Census data to find out which majors had the toughest time finding employment post-graduation.Read More
We realized that quite often, people don’t know much about their career options, and how to change or advance their career. While we tried our best to mentor them, it was frustrating to know that there were still millions of people out there who we couldn’t help.
And then we noticed something else: The internet can answer almost any of our questions today – how to build a house, how to buy a car, or how to find love. But even though choosing a career is one of the most important decisions of our life, there is very little reliable guidance available online.
This is why we decided to build a platform that gives everybody the tools to find the career that is right for them.