As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed by Congress, independent contractors and gig workers are eligible for unemployment benefits for the first time. Typically, these types of workers are not eligible due to not being an employee and not paying into the system over time. However, due to these unprecedented times and a global pandemic, they are eligible to receive these benefits through the California Employment Development Department (EDD). These benefits are afforded through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
According to EDD, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a brand new program. The EDD is working quickly with the California Department of Technology (CDT)/Office of Digital Innovation to develop the application needed to stand up this new program to serve unemployed Californians who don’t usually qualify for regular UI benefits, including the self-employed. It is the EDD’s hope that this new program will closely mirror the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program benefits that Californians have received in the wake of recent disasters including the large wildfires. Again, Californians should watch for updates on EDD’s website that will include instructions for workers who may have already applied for benefits and were not found eligible for the regular state-administered UI program.
To qualify, you must be out of work or have reduced hours due to the Coronavirus pandemic to qualify. You will receive the state benefit plus an additional federal weekly benefit of $600 through July 31st. It also extends state unemployment coverage by an additional 13 weeks for a total coverage of 39 weeks.