SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Self-employed, part-time, independent contractors and gig workers in California can apply for new unemployment insurance benefits made available through the CARES Act. This includes an additional $600 per week beyond usual state benefits, according to a statement Tuesday according to a statement from Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office.

The statement read, in part: “With unemployment rates skyrocketing due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Californians are applying for unemployment benefits for the first time. In order to receive benefits as quickly as possible, Californians should apply through the California Employment Development Department’s website.

“Applying through the state will make you eligible for a range of unemployment benefits. In the coronavirus recovery legislation signed into law last month, Congress included an additional $600 a week until July 31 and extended the period you can receive benefits by 13 weeks.

“Congress also made self-employed, part-time, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits for the first time. In short, if you lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment benefits will likely be available even if you weren’t eligible in the past.”

Provisions of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program include:

(Source: EDD website)

  • Up to 39 weeks of benefits starting with weeks of unemployment beginning February 2, 2020, through the week ending December 26, 2020*, depending on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
  • An additional $600 to each PUA weekly benefit amount you may be eligible to receive, as part of the separate CARES Act Pandemic
  • Additional Compensation program. Only the weeks of a claim between March 29 and July 25* are eligible for the extra $600 payments.
  • A new 13-week federal extension for those who run out of their regular state-provided UI benefits (maximum 26 weeks). File a PUA claim and you may be converted to the federal extension once it is available.

The $600 additional benefits are available through July 31. However, the US Department of Labor says that, for most Californians, the last full week of benefits will end on July 25. Similarly, the PUA program has a legislative end date of December 31, 2020, but for Californians, the last full week of benefits will end on December 26.

The PUA benefits are payable if you don’t qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits in California or another state and also do not qualify for state Disability Insurance or Paid Family Leave benefits. This includes:

  • Business owners
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Independent contractors

The fastest way to apply for benefits is through UI Online. You can also apply for PUA by phone, mail, or fax.