Can I Get Unemployment Insurance if I’m Self-Employed?

If you’re self-employed and out of work, don’t despair yet! You may still be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Typically, to qualify for unemployment benefits, you would have to show that you earned a certain amount of W2 income through an employer during the past year. But Congress passed the CARES Act in March, providing unemployment benefits to many individuals who would not otherwise qualify for unemployment benefits. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recently announced that it will begin making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payment to self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and others who wouldn’t normally qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

What do I need to do?

If you’ve already applied for unemployment benefits, you don’t need to do anything further. DEED will create a PUA account for you. But if you haven’t applied yet, perhaps because you assumed you were ineligible, go ahead and create an account. Instructions for self-employed workers can be found here. The instructions ask you to apply on a specific day of the week, since DEED has received an overwhelming number of applications.

Chart displaying instructions

DEED has said that applicants qualifying for PUA payments will receive the $600/week additional payment and payments will be backdated to the date of eligibility, but only as far back as March 29, 2020. Currently, applicants may be eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits, terminating either when you return to work, or the last week of 2020.

DEED has been overwhelmed with applications. Phone assistance is currently only available on Friday. DEED is asking everyone to be patient and know that they are working on applications and sending out updates and notices in batches. So if your friend received approval for an application before you did, that doesn’t necessarily mean yours was denied.

As always, we are here to help. If you are self-employed and have questions feel free to give us a call.

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