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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (& Backpay for Self-employed)

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    Something very important to note for anyone that normally wouldn't be able to apply for unemployment benefits but can now due to COVID-19, that would be -- independent contractors, self-employed, gig workers, freelancers:

    You should receive backdated unemployment benefits, dating back as far as January 27th, 2020.

    So if you got laid off or furloughed or hours significantly reduced on or after January 27th due to coronavirus specifically, and you are just now able to apply, you will get weekly benefits for all approved weeks retroactively from when you provable lost your job.

    Example:
    If you are an independent contractor and got laid off due to coronavirus on January 29th lets say, you would not have been able to apply in most states until today or maybe even a week or two from now. That's because states have been waiting on guidance from the federal govt. It is now here. This new, expanded unemployment due to COVID-19 is called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

    And once you can apply and get approved, you will receive state benefits for all the weeks you have been without work. Retroactively.

    In this example, that would mean you will receive benefits checks for the approved weeks of:

    January 29th - date of approval. But that would NOT be for the additional $600/wk. Only the state benefits.

    The $600/wk extra is only retroactive from March 29th, 2020.

    In summary, under that scenario, let's say you get approved for $250/wk with your state under the new regulations. You should get the following:

    $250/wk retroactively for 11-12 weeks (Jan 29th - this week), totaling $2750 - $3000
    $250/wk going forward for the remainder of your max weekly payouts + 13 additional weeks
    $600/wk on top of your $250/wk for up to four months (March 29th through July 31st)

    All that together would be approximately up to: $3000 + $6750 +$9600 = $19,350 of total benefits, paid out over 39 weeks. That's the pre-tax numbers keep in mind, and those numbers assume your state does 26 weeks max (most do).

    To figure out your approx benefits, you just have to adjust the variables for when you can prove you got laid off or were otherwise effected, how much your state approves you for weekly, and your state's normal max weeks of payout.

    I know it might seem complicated. Hope that helps though. This is really good news for many people struggling right now. If you have an example and want to see the math, lemme know. I'll try and do an approximation for you, best I can.

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    Thanks for posting this, really helpful info. This is great news for alot of people out there. I heard a story on NPR a few days ago about a self-employed man who has been making and selling pottery at an art supply show in his town for around 17 years. That's been his only form of income and it has now been cut off due to the shelter in place guidelines temporarily closing the art show.

    Out of curiosity, do you know what this means for people like him?

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    PentagonWall Wrote:

    Out of curiosity, do you know what this means for people like him?

    Yeah. He should be able to file unemployment through his state's labor website, once they have the new system in place. Which is now, or any day now. They are calling it PUA for short. (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance).

    He will have to prove his income (to varying degrees depending on his state guidelines) but generally speaking he just proves he made X amount of income from his art and he should qualify.

    I hope he gets PUA money. That would be great for him. And anyone else in a similar situation. It might not be super easy proving your income vs a regular W-2 employee. But it is possible now. Just know every state will ask somewhat different questions and maybe ask for different levels of proof/verification. Be patient, much as you can.

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    I live in PA and self employed, and I understand I must wait until they provide the PUA to file. But regarding the additional $600.00 is that going to be active once I am able to file a PUA or is that something that is being done automatically? And if not what must I file in order to receive that.

    Thank you

    Wildflowerz4me

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    I live Orlando/ FL. 10-1-2018 — 03-31-2019 I worked NJ state.. Than I moved FL. May 31 I am retired from Social Security. In the May I started Uber and Lyft independent contractor until 02-25-2020..I went to go for vacation Turkey,after Covid-19 pandemic start. All flight cancelled. Still I am waiting flights reopen...Can I apply from Turkey unemployment benefits.. ?Please give me information, I don’t want to do anything wrong... I appreciate that for help,, Thank you...
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    wildflowerz4me Wrote:

    I live in PA and self employed, and I understand I must wait until they provide the PUA to file. But regarding the additional $600.00 is that going to be active once I am able to file a PUA or is that something that is being done automatically? And if not what must I file in order to receive that.

    Thank you

    Wildflowerz4me

    It should be done automatically. Here's what the Department of Labor has to say:

    "The amount of PUA benefits you will receive is based on your previous income reported. PUA benefits may not be more than the state's maximum weekly benefit rate for regular UC (Unemployment Compensation).

    All individuals collecting PUA will receive $600 per week from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), in addition to weekly benefits as calculated above. FPUC payments will begin the week ending April 4, 2020. The last week that FPUC is payable is the week ending July 25, 2020."

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    Wow. I am sorry to hear about your current situation. I hope you are in good health and are able to return to the states again soon.

    Have you filed your 2019 taxes yet or updated your new address in Florida with the SSA?

    Florida unemployment rules stipulate that:

    • You must have lost your job through no fault of your own. You won’t qualify if you quit for personal reasons or were terminated for malicious misconduct. Poor job performance does not disqualify you.
    • You must be totally or partially unemployed. Partially unemployed means your hours were reduced or you’re a part-time worker who can’t find additional work.
    • You must have earned at least $3,400 before taxes in what is called the "base period," which is the first four complete quarters beginning 18 months prior to your claim.
    • You must be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. This includes being able to get to a job and have child care if necessary.

    If you haven't already, I would try to begin filing a claim with the Florida Unemployment Program and see what they tell you.

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    So I live in Ohio and I have been on unemployment since January not because of the coronavirus. Do I qualify for the extra $600 a week
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    GreggEarth216 Wrote: So I live in Ohio and I have been on unemployment since January not because of the coronavirus. Do I qualify for the extra $600 a week

    Yes you do. It should be automatic for you once it kicks in for your state officially. Just keep making your weekly claims. And expanded benefits will be retroactive, so you won't be penalized while you wait.

    It just might take your state several days or even a few weeks to implement the new changes. From the looks of it, Ohio hasn't made the changes yet and there is no exact eta for it either.

    Coronavirus: Ohio workers waiting for expanded unemployment benefits

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    I am self employed, drive for Uber/Lyft. I applied for unemployment because I was ordered to "shelter" in due to upper respiratory problems caused by chronic Sinusitis and Asthma. I was denied because of income. My state of Indiana did not count my income for Uber/Lyft, which I filed Taxes in 2018 and 2019, and denied my claim for lack of income.

    I have not been able to talk to anyone with the Unemployment Department because every time I call, the phone automatically hangs up. I've sent messages to Uber, no response. What can I do?

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    Hello My name is Pamela. I live in Long Beach, Ca. I am self employed and I clean for Airbnbs. I'm having trouble figuring out what to report as my income, because, every week is different. Sometimes we have guests book the whole week and sometimes we'll have 5 different guest in one week. But of course now no one is booking now due to the Pandemic. It's so confusing to me, numbers is not my forte Any help would appreciated.

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    Murial Henry Wrote:

    I am self employed, drive for Uber/Lyft. I applied for unemployment because I was ordered to "shelter" in due to upper respiratory problems caused by chronic Sinusitis and Asthma. I was denied because of income. My state of Indiana did not count my income for Uber/Lyft, which I filed Taxes in 2018 and 2019, and denied my claim for lack of income.

    I have not been able to talk to anyone with the Unemployment Department because every time I call, the phone automatically hangs up. I've sent messages to Uber, no response. What can I do?

    You should still be approved. What's going on is Indiana has yet to implement the changes for your type of work. But they should be close. You are needing 'Pandemic Unemployment Assistance'. Indiana's PUA isn't up and going just yet.

    Most states are behind on updating their systems, mostly because their labor depts are underfunded, understaffed and the website's labor dept software is very out of date. Couple that with unprecedented demand and you have a terrible recipe for backlog and very long wait times.

    But many states started PUA benefit portals this week and Indiana should be close. It just might take several days or even a few weeks. The good news is, like I posted above, benefits are retroactive. So you won't be penalized for having to wait.

    It's good that you applied for normal benefits, because that is required. You actually need to get denied before you can get PUA benefits. So once its ready you should be able to move quickly through the system.

    Here's the link and exert from their site on this:

    Indiana Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

    Q1: What if I am self-employed or part of the “gig” economy?

    A1: Self-employed individuals and gig economy workers—such as contractors and delivery drivers, whose income has been cut or eliminated by the pandemic—will be eligible under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. The Department of Workforce Development will work to roll out this new program as soon as possible.

    For now, an individual can file a regular claim for benefits, as it is necessary to file a state claim, even if you know you will be denied, before you can be considered eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

    Q2: Am I eligible to apply for the additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits from the federal government?

    A2: If you are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUA), you will receive the additional $600. You will not need to do anything additional to receive the $600 once you are found eligible for PUA. DWD will pay the additional $600 once it rolls out the PUA program.

    Q3: Unemployment benefits have been expanded from a maximum of 26 weeks to 39 weeks. Who’s eligible for the expansion?

    A3: Anyone ineligible for any other state or federal UI benefit; who meets conditions related to being unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19; and is not able to telework and is not receiving any paid leave.

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    PCK333 Wrote:

    Hello My name is Pamela. I live in Long Beach, Ca. I am self employed and I clean for Airbnbs. I'm having trouble figuring out what to report as my income, because, every week is different. Sometimes we have guests book the whole week and sometimes we'll have 5 different guest in one week. But of course now no one is booking now due to the Pandemic. It's so confusing to me, numbers is not my forte Any help would appreciated.

    Good question. This is a bit unclear but it doesn't look like CA's PUA system is up and going yet either.

    California Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

    Once the new EDD portal opens it should be much more clear. They are still in the process of building it out. But generally speaking past income reporting for unemployment is based off of tax returns or pay stubs. You report what you made during certain time frames and the system tells you what you qualify for.

    Are you seeing something different when applying for your state? Have you applied or attempted to apply yet? If so what exactly is it asking that confuses you?

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    Hello,

    Thanks for posting. I am an independent contractor who was laid off from my group fitness classes March 15th due to the Corona virus. I have been working throughout the Pandemic at CVS as a Pharmacy Tech. Recently, I was quarantined by my doctor after I started to show symptoms of Covid 19. I am currently not working at all, but I am considering asking for a leave of absence from CVS until the worst of the virus is over. Am I now eligible for unemployment from job number one as an independent contractor? What if I just decided to stop working for CVS altogether? Would I then be eligible for unemployment with my job as an independent contractor? I live in Maryland. My job as a fitness instructor is in Md. and my job with CVS is in Delaware. Thank you in advance for your answer. It is much appreciated.

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    oc1 Wrote:

    Hello,

    Thanks for posting. I am an independent contractor who was laid off from my group fitness classes March 15th due to the Corona virus. I have been working throughout the Pandemic at CVS as a Pharmacy Tech. Recently, I was quarantined by my doctor after I started to show symptoms of Covid 19. I am currently not working at all, but I am considering asking for a leave of absence from CVS until the worst of the virus is over. Am I now eligible for unemployment from job number one as an independent contractor? What if I just decided to stop working for CVS altogether? Would I then be eligible for unemployment with my job as an independent contractor? I live in Maryland. My job as a fitness instructor is in Md. and my job with CVS is in Delaware. Thank you in advance for your answer. It is much appreciated.

    Yes, you would be eligible for PUA with your first job as an independent contractor. But you do have to report all earnings for every week you claim, so you will only be able to collect PUA benefits while unemployed, unless you only work part time at CVS and stay below the state threshold of hours/earnings. If you go the part time route, you may only qualify for partial state benefits, but you will get the full $600/wk extra until July 31st for all approved weeks.

    Plus state benefit backpay, retroactive until as far back as January 27th.

    Here are some good links for you on the part time work stipulations, pulled from the FAQ section on Maryland's DOL site:

    What if I am working full time but earning less than my weekly benefit amount (WBA)?

    If I have been working part-time but am now unemployed and only looking for part-time work, am I eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

    Also, Maryland isn't ready for independent contractors to start applying yet. You can sign up on their site to get an email the moment the system is ready though, which hopefully will be in a few days, but might take up to a few weeks.

    Here is the site and exert of note for you -- Maryland's DOL

    Starting Friday, April 17, everyone eligible for benefits ending the week of April 4 will begin receiving an additional $600 per week as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. We are partnering with an outside vendor to expedite and streamline the implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which will be available soon.

    The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor opted into providing ALL three of the expanded unemployment insurance programs offered through the provisions of the CARES Act:

    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
    • Individuals who are not usually eligible for regular UI and who cannot work due to COVID-19 are eligible for a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits, which includes $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
    • Effective January 27, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
    • Please do NOT yet submit an application if you are self-employed, an independent contractor, gig worker, have insufficient work history, and/or believe you may be eligible. Our system is currently not set up to process these types of applicants, as they are formerly considered ineligible. If you do submit an application, it will be denied. To receive an e-mail once the new application is ready, please sign up here.

    Hope that helps. You are welcome to ask any follow up questions. It's a confusing time no doubt, but hopefully between all us mods and members and newcomers here, we can help you sort through all the confusion.