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Coronavirus FAQs: Independent Contractors and Unemployment Compensation

Last week, Congress approved a massive stimulus bill that included grants for small businesses and sole proprietorship. Part of this stimulus package includes unemployment benefits for freelancers and independent contractors.

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What are the Unemployment Benefits for Independent Contractors?

As an independent contractor, can I apply for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19?

Yes. The CARES Act established two types of unemployment benefits real estate professionals may be eligible for:

  1. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. The FPUC provides $600 per week for up to 13 weeks or until July 31, 2020, and is available regardless of an applicant’s previous income.
  2. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. PUA is based on previous income and provides benefits beginning at $207 up to $521 per week for a maximum of 39 weeks. PUA applicants are eligible for assistance beginning on January 27, 2020, through December 31, 2020, and the benefits may be applied retroactively.

Check Out Your State's Unemployment Program.

What are the criteria used for determining if I am eligible unemployment compensation?

Applicants must be able to self-certify that their unemployment is due to one of several COVID-19-related circumstances, including the inability to conduct business due to a lack of clients. For example, widespread social distancing or stay at home orders undertaken in response to governmental restrictions may so severely reduce customer demand for a services as to force him to suspend operations, making that professional eligible for assistance.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?

Contact your state’s unemployment office to apply for benefits. You can typically file your claim online, over the phone or in person if necessary.

Check Out Your State's Unemployment Program.

Information needed for your claim will vary by state, but in most cases, you’ll need the following:

Bring This Information With You

  • Your name, Social Security number and driver’s license number (if you have one).
  • Mailing address and phone number.
  • Your bank information (address, routing number and account number) for direct deposit. This is typically optional.

You will also need employment information for your most recent employer, as well as any employer you’ve worked for over the past 18 to 24 months.

Bring Your Employment History

  • The name of your employer (as it appears on your pay stub or W-2).
  • The complete address and phone number of the employer.
  • Your supervisor’s name.
  • Start and end date.
  • Your wage information, including how you were paid (hourly, weekly, monthly).
  • The reason you are no longer working.

Small Business and Nonprofits Can Apply for the PPP and EIDL

The Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program are the two main options small businesses and nonprofits have to obtain financial support during the coronavirus outbreak. (It’s worth noting that organizations can receive both loans and that an EIDL loan can also be refinanced into a PPP loan.)

I recommend applying for the “up to $10,000” grant first. It's called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), which includes a $10,000 grant that businesses can apply for and which they do not need to pay back.

The rest of the EIDL loan, which caps out at $2 million, is not forgivable but can be more flexible than PPP in the types of expenses it covers.

Quick Link: Currently, the EIDL application is already live and accessible here.

Can I Apply for Unemployment Benefits in Addition to PPP or EIDL Loan?

Yes. Currently, nothing prohibits an independent contractor from applying for more than one type of pandemic-related aid. It is important to keep in mind, however, that eligibility may change based on a change in an applicant’s circumstances. Additionally, there are specific requirements to qualify for repayment forgiveness for the PPP loan, so it is important to speak with your lender to determine what options are best for you and your business.

Laid Off? Check Out Our Work from Home Series…

The unemployment numbers came out yesterday and they are TRIPLE what we expected. It's now worse than I originally thought. We're up to 15 million people unemployed. Eventually, I believe that over 30 million people will be unemployed. That's why we're kicking off our work from home, start a side hustle series to help you, your family and your community.

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Kit Elliott
Founder, I Love Making Money Dot Com

Coronavirus Relief for Small Business, Freelancers and Independent Contracts by I Love Making Money Team

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