Independent Contractor Unemployment Insurance - Federal CARES Act

Just an FYI for NC people. There were a few bumps, but I got through and started receiving PUA payments in a couple of days after completing the process. First, I applied for UI. Uploaded 2019 Tax Forms and spreadsheets I use to keep track of my earnings. Got denied, as expected. PUA application automatically kicked in, but had problems completing it. After a couple of days of trying to get through by phone, I got a person who did application on-line. This was a Friday evening & started getting payments Monday. You have to submit weekly certifications detailing any income you earn each week. Since I am still able to do a couple of assignments, I submit those & that amount is taken out of the NC portion of my PUA. The federal stays at $600 a week, regardless. I did get a letter yesterday because I listed myself as the employer asking me to verify something for the claimant (myself also), I'm pretty sure this is automatic. This was for the denied UI, so I am ignoring this unless I find out otherwise. Hope this helps!

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I don't understand how anyone who is an IC can collect regular unemployment if they didn't pay into the fund. I get the PUA but regular unemployment, no.
I live in Texas. For Week 1, I reported $170 in earnings. I really only earned $45 that week, but I messed up and included money paid to me by MS companies. I received $80 in benefits tor that week. For Weeks 2 and 3, I reported $15 and $48, respectively. I received $207+$600 in unemployment benefits for each week. (The unemployment office notified me I was eligible to receive $207 weekly.) For Week 4, I reported $339 (a great work week for me!) and received nothing in benefits. No $600 CARES Act money either. Yesterday submitted Weeks 5 & 6, $60 and $45, respectively. Now I am worried I will not receive the $600 CARES Act money anymore since I reported one high weekly amount.
It's all a big mess that greatly benefits some, and discriminates others.

The well-off, bored housewife who used to do a handful of high-end shops for the fun of it is entitled to the state minimum plus 600 federal weekly even though she never paid into the system, and does not rely on the extra money.

On the other hand, the struggling single mom who works a W2-job and used to grab as many mystery shops as possible just to make ends meet is excluded from PUA because she is "still employed".

Some people now receive double, triple or even more than they ever earned working. Others get nothing. How is that fair?
@JASFLALMT wrote:

I don't understand how anyone who is an IC can collect regular unemployment if they didn't pay into the fund. I get the PUA but regular unemployment, no.

I don't think anyone is...but considering the confusion between employment and contracting with just members of this forum alone, I also understand that many are confused about it.

Since the regular unemployment departments are being put in charge of distributing the PUA, they are often handling it like traditional employment, since it's all they know. IC's are being guided through traditional forms that ask questions about hourly rates and such that often don't apply to IC's.
I’m in TN. I did not have any W-2 income. TN is giving the self-employed 1/2 of the regular UE and the $600.

@SteveSoCal wrote:

@JASFLALMT wrote:

I don't understand how anyone who is an IC can collect regular unemployment if they didn't pay into the fund. I get the PUA but regular unemployment, no.

I don't think anyone is...but considering the confusion between employment and contracting with just members of this forum alone, I also understand that many are confused about it.

Since the regular unemployment departments are being put in charge of distributing the PUA, they are often handling it like traditional employment, since it's all they know. IC's are being guided through traditional forms that ask questions about hourly rates and such that often don't apply to IC's.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2020 05:19PM by grille.
@Kenzie not every shopper on here is bored well off housewife. Some have this gig as their only income and depend on that money just as much as person who has a regular full time W2 job.
In PA we're now able to submit weekly certifications for payment. Today was the first day for the rollout of that. It went ok. I submitted 4 previous weeks for certification. For 3 of those weeks I had performed a couple of shops so I of course had to submit that income, which was less than $30 for each week. It's my expectation that that amount of earned income will be subtracted from my weekly benefit amount. For the 4th week I had no earned income, so I checked off a box stating something about lack of work for the reason. Evidently that tripped something in the system because it stated that week would be under review. All 4 weekly certifications show as in process but under review. It's frustrating to not be able to reach anyone on the phone to be able to discuss this or ask questions. I'm interested to see if the status of my weekly certifications changes in the next few days.
@cybersst wrote:

@Kenzie not every shopper on here is bored well off housewife. Some have this gig as their only income and depend on that money just as much as person who has a regular full time W2 job.

Did I say or imply that was the case? No.

I stand by my opinion that lots of people qualify for excessive payments under the CARES act while others who depend on it and paid into the system all their lives are left out in the rain.

EVERYBODY who lost income (W-2 and/or IC) should be made whole. And NOBODY should make more on unemployment than they did while working.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2020 06:30PM by Kenzie.
I would also like to add that Unemployment Ins is for those who are unemployed. If you are still employed in your regular W2 job and have not been cut back then you do not qualify for that reason. Perhaps you will have the chance to voluntarily get laid off so that you can qualify. Unemployment Insurance (the UI traditional type) has absolutely nothing to do with how rich or poor you are or whether you spent all your income on fancy vacations and cars while you were working. I am not saying that you individually have done this. So the rule is you can get it whether you need it or not if you become unemployed or drastically cut back through no fault of your own.. They do not look at your spending habits but at whether your income has changed significantly. The PUA was set up for those who have gig type work as their income so have never been able to get regular UI even tho they pay taxes (not UI taxes) regularly but have never gotten assistance of this type when their work slowed so they can now get emergency assistance. Unfortunately for some the line seems to be drawn at all W2 work even if one has earned very little through W2 as they were working at much less than a full time job. Perhaps sometime in the future they will look at this bill they put together of the fly in order to help as many as possible quickly. Even if you had to wait several weeks for your state to come online with the PUA program it is still lightning fast compared to the usual government programs which take years to approve. Perhaps in the future they will be able to patch it and help those whose W2 work was minimal. I doubt they will extend it to those who are still at work at the same full time employment they have had all along.
It would be nice if they had extended help to everyone, including CEO's who can be bankrupt, without the program making assumptions about who can or cannot survive this pandemic. Those in high tax brackets would end up paying much of it back in taxes and it would have cost a lot less to administer. It is even worse for those who were not able to work at all in 2018/19 for whatever reason and now do not qualify for a penny.

@cybersst wrote:

@Kenzie not every shopper on here is bored well off housewife. Some have this gig as their only income and depend on that money just as much as person who has a regular full time W2 job.
@Kenzie wrote:

@cybersst wrote:

@Kenzie not every shopper on here is bored well off housewife. Some have this gig as their only income and depend on that money just as much as person who has a regular full time W2 job.

Did I say or imply that was the case? No.

I stand by my opinion that lots of people qualify for excessive payments under the CARES act while others who depend on it and paid into the system all their lives are left out in the rain.

EVERYBODY who lost income (W-2 and/or IC) should be made whole. And NOBODY should make more on unemployment than they did while working.


I COMPLETELY understand! Your 'income' was the total between both W-2 and 1099. It's theoretically no different than having two W-2 jobs and losing one OR working 80 hours a week and being cut to 40 hours. Either of those situations would qualify you for UI.

I agree that NO ONE should make more on unemployment than when they were working. I applied, was denied and took a (very) low paying job because the states are taking an EXCESSIVE amount of time to actually pay us gig workers. I now no longer qualify due to working. So someone who made $7.50/hr is bringing home over $800 a week to sit at home and I'm working 40 hours bringing home just over $400.

Servimer Regional Manager- Nevada, Illinois, Wisconsin & Minnesota
Someone working 40 hours a week is not considered unemployed. I doubt that they would qualify for either federal pandemic unemployment compensation or any state's unemployment compensation. Regardless of whether they lost some of their work, they are still employed full time.

@luckygirl0100 wrote:

It's theoretically no different than having two W-2 jobs and losing one OR working 80 hours a week and being cut to 40 hours. Either of those situations would qualify you for UI.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2020 05:55AM by MSF.
@MSF wrote:

Someone working 40 hours a week is not considered unemployed. I doubt that they would qualify for either federal pandemic unemployment compensation or any state's unemployment compensation. Regardless of whether they lost some of their work, they are still employed full time.

@luckygirl0100 wrote:

It's theoretically no different than having two W-2 jobs and losing one OR working 80 hours a week and being cut to 40 hours. Either of those situations would qualify you for UI.

To clear up any confusion...it's not about hours. Unemployment is based on income. You can work 20 hours, 100 or just 5 hours a week, but if there's a drop in your pay you are underemployed, and potentially able to receive some benefits. It really depends on your state, though.

I only know the CA system well so that's all I can responsibly address, but luckygirl0100 would be able to file a claim in CA based on income disparity if she was laid off due to the pandemic and her new job paid significantly less.

Also; few people are earning more specifically due to unemployment. They may be temporarily earning more from the CARES stimulus added to unemployment award, but that is temporary. In CA, the EDD award maxes out for people making $25/hour and assumes people work 40 hours, any only pays ONE-QUARTER of that! Meaning, if you were making $40/hour at a corporate job, you would be getting $11.25 on unemployment. Minimum wage is $12 in CA, so I'm not going to address the $7.50 option, but the minimum wage earner in CA would be getting $5.55/hour on unemployment.

So...even if you want to include the additional $600 weekly into the calculation, you have to consider that if someone is unemployed during what may potentially be the worst economic disaster ever, they will potentially not return to employment in 2020. The stimulus will max out at $12,000 after 20 weeks, and the weekly award of $222, even extended to 39 weeks under the CARES act, will max out at $8.658, so a minimum wage earner who was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic and doesn't return to work, even with the $1,200 stimulus included, will make $2,142 less in 2020 than they would if they continued to work....and that $40/hour earner; They will lose $52,450 in 2020, even including all stimulus payments.
I was able to apply in Florida and received an email that it was pending. I had two 1099 from lat year that were only about 3500. One of the questions asked if II earn over 4500 last year and since I did not, doubt if I will get anything,
I did not include earnings from 2020 and I probably did earn over 4500 then.But I don't think I can edit the application.
@Insight wrote:

I had two 1099 from lat year that were only about 3500. One of the questions asked if II earn over 4500 last year and since I did not, doubt if I will get anything,
I did not include earnings from 2020 and I probably did earn over 4500 then.But I don't think I can edit the application.

Your earning are not solely based on 1099's. You need to report ALL fees that you receive....and it would certainly be in your best interest to contact your local department and explain you had made a mistake!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2020 04:35PM by SteveSoCal.
I am wondering if anyone in CA who applied has gotten any follow-up info from the state? I applied for the PUA online on the first available date- April 28. After submitting I received a claim number and on the form it said I would get information in the mail by May 8 and have not received any follow-up info yet.
Log into the site and you should see the status of your claim. I have many friends that have claims approved with nothing received by mail....

@carlsbadguy wrote:

I am wondering if anyone in CA who applied has gotten any follow-up info from the state? I applied for the PUA online on the first available date- April 28. After submitting I received a claim number and on the form it said I would get information in the mail by May 8 and have not received any follow-up info yet.
To log into my account I need the 10 digit EDD number which is what I am waiting for in the mail?
Not sure about other states, but in PA you receive nothing in the mail for PUA claims. All communication is through the dashboard when logged in to the PUA website. You don't even get emails...you just have to continually check the website. While our PUA system has become fully functional, it has a lot of glitches right now. I was able to file weekly certifications for 4 prior weeks, which seem to be progressing and will hopefully be paid soon. But now when I try to file certifications for additional weeks, it says my claim is currently inactive and prompts me to re-file my application. So I sent an email and await a response. It seems like many others in my state are dealing with similar glitches.
It appears that California operates a bit differently. Even in CA though, it looks like someone making $15 or more per hour whose hours have been reduced to 40 hours per week would not qualify for unemployment.

Most states operate like MA, which says:

"If you work full-time hours in any given week, you will be considered employed "full-time" regardless of wages, and you will not be eligible for benefits for that week. Full-time is generally between 35 and 40 hours per week. You are considered employed full-time if you are working the customary full-time schedule in your job or occupation." source [www.mass.gov]



@SteveSoCal wrote:

To clear up any confusion...it's not about hours. Unemployment is based on income. You can work 20 hours, 100 or just 5 hours a week, but if there's a drop in your pay you are underemployed, and potentially able to receive some benefits. It really depends on your state, though.

I only know the CA system well so that's all I can responsibly address, but luckygirl0100 would be able to file a claim in CA based on income disparity if she was laid off due to the pandemic and her new job paid significantly less.

Also; few people are earning more specifically due to unemployment. They may be temporarily earning more from the CARES stimulus added to unemployment award, but that is temporary. In CA, the EDD award maxes out for people making $25/hour and assumes people work 40 hours, any only pays ONE-QUARTER of that! Meaning, if you were making $40/hour at a corporate job, you would be getting $11.25 on unemployment. Minimum wage is $12 in CA, so I'm not going to address the $7.50 option, but the minimum wage earner in CA would be getting $5.55/hour on unemployment.

So...even if you want to include the additional $600 weekly into the calculation, you have to consider that if someone is unemployed during what may potentially be the worst economic disaster ever, they will potentially not return to employment in 2020. The stimulus will max out at $12,000 after 20 weeks, and the weekly award of $222, even extended to 39 weeks under the CARES act, will max out at $8.658, so a minimum wage earner who was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic and doesn't return to work, even with the $1,200 stimulus included, will make $2,142 less in 2020 than they would if they continued to work....and that $40/hour earner; They will lose $52,450 in 2020, even including all stimulus payments.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/09/2020 02:17AM by MSF.
@carlsbadguy wrote:

I am wondering if anyone in CA who applied has gotten any follow-up info from the state? .
I am having the same issue.
I received an email titled "New Online Account Created" a few days after applying. That let me into the website without needing 10 digit code that is to be mailed to you. However my status does not show any claims. I could not get through by phone after trying hours over multiple days so I sent an email through the HELP giving my claim confirmation number. I explained the problem but haven't heard back. I also haven't received the mail that should have arrived via mail by 5/8.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/09/2020 02:41AM by wwin.
Just a heads up to some California PUA applications. It seems like some of the EDD workers on the back end approved applications but gave them a start date of 4/29ish. This is affecting people who lost income before that date and correctly stated so on the application. In fact, the first four weeks of PUA are missing for them. I don't know if the EDD as any plans on rectifying this on their own, but it sounds like people are calling in and being told that the issue will be escalated to the department that can make this change. The claims specialists on the phone can usually fix anything but apparently do not have the authority to fix this. Check you claim start date to see if it falls in the week that you first lost income
UGH! I applied 4/28 and received California EDD mail with my Customer Account # today. Page two shows my benefit amount -$0.00. The online FAQ lists this as the reason:

#3 You’re self-employed or an independent contractor and have not paid contributions to the state Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are usually not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits and are unemployed or partially unemployed for reasons directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including business owners, the self-employed and those with limited recent work history.

NOTE: If you are one of the workers under #3 above (self-employed or independent contractor) who received the $0 benefit award notice, and you have not requested a wage investigation as described in #2 above, then you may apply for PUA by filing a new claim through UI Online beginning April 28.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/09/2020 04:46PM by wwin.
@wwin, that is common. I have a number of IC friends who received similar notices.

in MOST cases, it appeared to be that they had w-2 employment that showed up in the EDD system, but without enough in contributions, and they needed need to call and speak with a "Specialist", who could adjust the claim.

It seems the claims that were fast-tracked through were ones where there was zero income in the system, or there was enough to qualify for standard EDD. If you have any W-2 wages, they will base your status on that alone...and will not consider the self-employment income,
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