How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits in PA if You are Self-Employed or An Independent Contractor During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Late last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry opened up the web portal for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) for individuals, including those who are self-employed and serve as independent contractors, to be able to apply for supplemental federal benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”). 

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, based upon income, through December 31, 2020 to covered individuals who are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits and who are otherwise able and available to work except that they are unemployed or partially employed because of COVID-19. 

Pursuant to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, these individuals will also receive an additional $600 per week in benefits through July 31, 2020.

Those individuals who are eligible for benefits under PUA are the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers, who are not eligible under Pennsylvania state law, and individuals who lack sufficient work history or have previously exhausted their state benefits. 

Individuals applying for benefits will need to provide documentation of employment or self-employment, such as copies of their recent paycheck stubs, bank deposit receipts, IRS-1099 forms, billing notices to customers, advertisements for services, statements from customers, current business licenses, ledgers, contracts or invoices, and/or leases.  Additionally, they will need to provide documentation of wages, such as tax returns, paycheck stubs, bank receipts, ledgers, contracts, invoices and/or billing statements.

Moreover, those individuals will need to substantiate the COVID-19 reason for their inability to work by providing documentation, such as proof from a medical professional regarding diagnosis or isolation instructions, notices or emails from school or childcare providers, notices or emails from a county or state government regarding the closure of businesses or stay at home orders, notices or emails from customers stating that their services are not needed due to COVID-19 related shutdowns, or proof of a job being postponed or cancelled.

Applications can be made online here.

If you have a question about PUA or other unemployment benefits you may be eligible for, please feel free to contact us at contact@nochumson.com and an attorney at Nochumson P.C. will immediately reach out to you to schedule a free consultation.

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