CARES Act now includes self-employed, contract workers
A new program was announced last week that seeks to provide unemployment benefits to certain workers who did not qualify for them previously.
The Oregon Employment Department is now providing unemployment benefits through the CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
Oregonians who are eligible for this program include people who do not qualify for, or cannot collect benefits on, a regular unemployment insurance claim. Oregonians who are self-employed and not subject to unemployment insurance tax qualify as do people who perform work as an independent contractor or perform work not subject to unemployment insurance tax. Also eligible are workers who did not earn enough in wages or work enough hours to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, as well as those who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits and are not eligible for another extension.
Eligible people must also be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable and unavailable for work due to the pandemic. Covered situations include those who are directly caring for a member of the household diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who have been diagnosed with the illness or are seeking a medical diagnosis for it. Those who are unable to reach their place of employment because of a quarantine are covered, and so are primary caregivers for a child or person in the household who is unable to attend a school or another facility closed due to COVID-19. Also covered are those who were scheduled to start a new job and couldn't because of a pandemic closure and people who owned or worked for a business that closed as a result of the pandemic.
Federal law provides that PUA benefits are retroactive to the first week a worker was impacted by a qualifying COVID-19 reason, potentially from the week starting Feb. 2, 2020, through the week ending Dec. 26, 2020. The PUA process can take as little as one week or several weeks, depending on the claim complexity.
In preparation, the Employment Department has recruited and trained staff to process PUA claims.
Access the PUA application and certification forms on the CARES Act section of the Employment Department's COVID-19 web page. There are three ways to start a new application for PUA benefits.
Mail: You can mail your PUA application and weekly claim reports to Oregon Employment Department at P.O. Box 14165, Salem, OR 97311.
Fax: The Employment Department has several fax machines linked to the 503-371-2893 fax number for your PUA application and weekly claim reports.
The CARES Act page also provides information for self-employed, contract, gig, and other PUA-eligible workers who filed regular claims for unemployment benefits prior to the start of the program.
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