Due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment benefits have been extended to workers who have not traditionally been covered by unemployment insurance like the self-employed, gig workers, and independent contractors. Federal law now allows workers, who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits, are not receiving paid leave, and cannot work because of COVID-19, to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which includes a $600 weekly supplement through July 31, 2020.  To learn more about PUA eligibility, go to the New York Department of Labor website.

You can apply for PUA through a portal on the New York Department of Labor. Because of the current volume of applications, the day you should apply is based on your last name. A-F should file on Monday, G-N should file on Tuesday, O-Z should file on Wednesday. If you miss your day, you can file on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.   

New York state has issued guidelines for how to apply if you were self-employed. When the application asks for how many employers you have worked for in the past 18 months select only one employer. When asked for a Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) and New York State Employer Registration (ER) Number, leave both fields blank. Finally, put down “self‑employed” in the employer name field and put your business or residential address and phone number for contact information.