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I am an independent contractor. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act?

October 16 2020 7:27 pm

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits, depending on your personal circumstances. In Hawai’i, the CARES Act has expanded UI coverage to include those who are self-employed or independent contractors. Per federal guidelines, states are also permitted to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation. To qualify for PUA benefits, you must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits, which are available retroactively starting with weeks of unemployment beginning on or after January 27, 2020, and ending on or before December 31, 2020. The amount of benefits paid out will vary by state and are calculated based on the weekly benefit amounts (WBA) provided under a state’s unemployment insurance laws. Under the CARES Act, the WBA may be supplemented by the additional unemployment assistance provided under the Act.