April 3, 2020

Unemployment benefits

How it helps
Self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and gig workers do not usually qualify for unemployment benefits, but the CARES Act for the first time broadens the eligibility guidelines to include independent workers, meaning qualifying independent contractors have a direct claim for unemployment benefits under their own tax ID. The expanded program runs through December 31, 2020, and provides retroactive benefits from January 27, 2020.

The revised benefits add 13 weeks of unemployment payments to most states’ usual 26, increasing availability from six to nine months. States are required to use the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program formula to determine the amount you will get. An additional flat weekly sum will be added on top of that for the first 4 months someone collects unemployment.

How to get it
If you want to apply for these benefits, you’ll need to prove you are either partially or fully unemployed, or unable and unavailable to work because of the circumstances related to COVID-19. Because as an independent contractor, you are self-employed, you’ll want to use your own EIN or SSN when asked for your employer’s tax ID number. As noted above, doing so allows you to aggregate revenues from all independent contractor sources in eligibility calculations. For more information, head to your state’s Department of Labor website or use the link below.

Note: The current unprecedented demand may cause delays in application processing and receiving funds.

Additional resources
How to apply for unemployment benefits (resources for every state)
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance information for ICs