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How Freelancers Can Gain Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19

  • By Jodi Price
  • November 25, 2020

On March 27th, 2020, the Federal government passed the CARES Act to provide $3 trillion in coronavirus relief to small businesses, freelancers and independent contractors. And just recently, a sequel CARES Act has been approved to release additional paycheck protection program (PPP) funds to small businesses and entrepreneurs around the country.

That means, even if you earn money working gigs as a sole proprietor and don’t have a registered business, the CARES Act still applies to you—find out what you qualify for and what you should do to claim your benefits.

How Much Money Can You Expect?

Federal unemployment provisions for self-employed workers under the CARES Act include $600 per week for up to four months, even if you have limited work history. The government is also offering a grant opportunity for freelancers called the Economic Injury Disaster Recovery Loan, which can be up to $10,000 in upfront cash that you don’t have to pay back.

In addition to these federal benefits, freelancers are now eligible to receive unemployment benefits from their state. According to Forbes, states provide between 20 to 50% of your status quo earnings for typically 26 weeks.
Finally, freelancers or gig workers are eligible to receive $1,200 plus $500 per dependent from the IRS as long as they have filed their 2019 tax return. You have until the end of this year to apply.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19

To apply for federal unemployment provisions, go to this SBA application, fill it out and submit it, which should take less than 15 minutes. It will ask for your information, such as your name, address, social security number and industry. Thankfully, you won’t have to find and upload any documentation. 

As a freelancer, you’ll want to fill yourself out as an independent contractor and select “owner” for your role in your business, and write “100” percent owner in the following field. At the end of the application, you’ll see the option to check a box to consider you for the disaster recovery grant of up to $10,000. 

To apply for state benefits, check your state’s unemployment website. Unfortunately, some states are still updating their websites to make changes based on the CARES Act. Other states are so overwhelmed with unemployment applicants that their websites are experiencing downtimes. As soon as you can, fill out and submit the online application for unemployment benefits as a self-employed worker in your state. Most phone lines are filled and submitting your online application is the best way to get the ball rolling.

Don’t Ignore the CARES Act if You’re a Freelancer

With money in the bank, you can double down on your work efforts and come back stronger than before the coronavirus hit. 

As the world becomes increasingly virtual, it pays to have help from virtual freelancers who can help you improve your content marketing, branding, SEO and more. It’s also a great time to organize your freelance business with the help of tools that put everything in one place, from invoicing to contracts and project tracking. is a finance platform designed specifically for freelancers to help streamline their services and enhance their interactions with clients.
As the economy moves into a recession, be sure you don’t ignore new funding opportunities and unemployment benefits. 

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