Twenty million jobs were lost in April alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet while economists are calling it the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression, it doesn’t account for untold thousands of freelancers, gig workers, and those who are self-employed.
Traditionally, these workers haven’t been able to claim unemployment benefits if they lost a job. But thanks to the Pandemic Unemployment Act (PUA), many are now eligible to receive unemployment benefits—although it’s not always easy to navigate clunky state websites, figure out if you qualify, or even get through to a human being to find out.
As Kathy Morris and Chris Kolmar of Zippia note, “A disappointedly high number of states have yet to set up the systems needed to process new types of unemployment claims. Others are not telling applicants what they need for their claims to be approved or making them jump through other hoops.”
With that in mind, Zippia has furnished a handy calculator for these workers to figure out what they may be eligible to collect.
Benefits vary depending on a worker’s state of residence and their prior earnings, Morris and Kolmar point out, and not every state is offering benefits. When the state does, “typically, it amounts to around 40%-50% of your typical earnings, up to the state maximum,” Morris and Kolmar write. “In addition to state benefits, if you are eligible for PUA, you will receive an additional $600 per week under the CARES Act. You will only receive this supplemental pay until July 31st.”
They also note that while some states have a dedicated PUA portal, most states require the workers to apply for standard unemployment benefits first. Freelancers, gig workers, and self-employed individuals are usually rejected from standard unemployment at this point, but the state may point them to an evaluation form to determine if they meet the criteria for PUA.
Check Zippia’s site for a state-by-state listing of where PUA is offered.