Expansion of Unemployment Benefits: Green Light for Self-Employed and Independent Contractors to File for Benefits

Category: COVID-19 Updates

By Shareholder Patricia Stamler

Unemployment numbers have skyrocketed following COVID-19’s impact on the national and local economies. In response to this economic crisis, the State of Michigan and the federal government have passed laws which significantly expand eligibility for unemployment benefits and increased the amount of potential benefits. 

The focus of this update pertains to the availability of unemployment benefits for independent contractors, a workforce that traditionally is ineligible for such benefits.

Generally, the coronavirus CARES Act introduced three primary changes to unemployment benefits.

  1. The first key change arises under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision in CARES, an additional $600 of weekly benefits will be available for all weeks of unemployment between April 5, 2020 and July 31, 2020 and will be paid out for any week where the individual receives unemployment benefits.
  2. The second change is an increase of the maximum number of weeks an individual is eligible to receive benefits. As part of the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC) provision, an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits are available. These additional weeks will also include the additional $600 as outlined in the FPUC provision so long as they are before July 31, 2020.
  3. The third fundamental change to eligibility for unemployment arises under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision. This provision expands the program to apply to independent contractors and self-employed workers who would otherwise not qualify for unemployment benefits. Self-employed individuals and independent also qualify for the $600 weekly unemployment benefit under the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation provision if they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19.

The State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency administers unemployment benefits. Additional information on how to apply for benefits can be found online by clicking here.

If you feel you have a potential whistleblower False Claims Act claim, please contact me to discuss your claim. Additional information about COVID-19 and the recently passed CARE Act can be found on our website here. Although our office is physically closed, we are operating our business remotely.  All our attorneys are available via phone by calling our office number at (248)335-5000.  

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