The federal government has expanded unemployment benefits to cover self-employed and gig workers.

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The federal government has expanded unemployment benefits to cover self-employed and gig workers.

Post Date:  3/29/2020

Cross References

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

If you were unemployed as a result of a major disaster, you may be eligible to receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The federally funded Disaster Unemployment Assistance program (DUA) is designed to provide assistance to workers who become unemployed as the result of a presidentially declared major disaster, and who are ineligible for other unemployment benefits

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA)

The federal and state governments have expanded sick leave and unemployment benefits, and have enacted legislation to help impacted independent workers, including self-employed individuals and independent contractors. The Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

Benefits will:

  • Be based on previous income, and will vary based on location and benefit guidelines.
  • Include $600 a week in supplemental benefits for up to four months.
  • Provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits to help those who are still unemployed after they run out of state benefits. The length of state benefits varies based on location, but the maximum is 26 weeks

Do I qualify?

Section 2102 of the CARES Act provides individuals who are not already eligible for state and federal unemployment programs—but would be able to work in the absence of the coronavirus outbreak—a set amount of unemployment compensation.

Unemployment benefits will extend to:

  • Self-employed workers
  • Freelancers
  • Independent contractors
  • Individuals with limited work history
  • Employees who quit their job for coronavirus-related reasons (This not only applies to those who contract the virus themselves, but also those who must leave their jobs to provide full-time care to family and other relatives but do not have access to paid leave benefits.)

Freelancers Relief Fund

The Freelancers Union has launched the Freelancers Relief Fund. The fund will provide up to $1,000 to freelancers who are experiencing sudden hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for funding will open on April 2, 2020.

Company-Provided Benefits

Some companies are setting up relief funds for independent contractors and gig workers who are impacted by the coronavirus:

  • Uber drivers and delivery persons will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold if they are diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to self-quarantine.
  • Instacart is providing "up to 14 days of pay for any part-time employee or full-service shopper who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in mandatory isolation or quarantine, as directed by a local, state, or public health authority.
  • DoorDash is offering up to two weeks of financial assistance for eligible dashers and couriers.

Joanna Dratwa-Naruszewicz
Accountant, Notary Public
Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor