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Unemployment Benefits for Gig Workers & Self-Employed Delayed at Least 2 Weeks

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Millions of gig workers, self-employed people, and independent contractors have lost their livelihoods due to this pandemic, yet they don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits because they don’t work traditional jobs.

As someone who works for themselves and whose business has been decimated by this pandemic, I’ve been thirstily awaiting the help promised by the federal government. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that was part of the federal CARES Act was supposed to step in and do this, but like so many things bungled by this inept and insipid administration, help has not yet arrived. Apparently we won’t even be able to apply for at least another two weeks (if you’d like to support BAS in these harrowing times please join the Patreon right here).

Over the weekend the office of San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, sent out a newsletter with a ton of updates about all the madness going on due to COVID-19. Below is what it says regarding the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance:

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program crated by the federal CARES Act is designed to expand access to unemployment insurance benefits to those who do not usually qualify –  including independent contractors, self-employed people, and people who have already exhausted their UI benefits

As of today, there is not yet an application process for PUA. We have been notified that it will take another two weeks for EDD to launch the PUA application. 

Once the PUA application launches, you will be able to apply through the EDD online portal. If you have not done so already, we suggest that you create an online account at or make sure you can access any existing account you may have. This will expedite the process once the application is open.

What we know about the PUA application process so far:

      • You will be able to self-certify your wages on the application. This will allow the process to move more quickly. Rather than the typical 3 week wait to receive benefits, EDD is currently saying that you will receive your benefits within 24-48 hours of applying.
      • PUA provides for a minimum payment of $167 per week. The maximum is $450 per week. If there are any issues determining what you are entitled to, EDD will start paying out the minimum amount within the 24-48 hour window. EDD will then go back, determine what you are owed, and pay you the additional amount including back-pay.
      • You can apply for benefits that are back-dated up to the first week of February, or whenever you first felt an economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. Applying later will not reduce the total amount your receive.
      • PUA will also allow you to get access to the additional $600 per week made available through the CARES Act. This is on top of your PUA benefits. These benefits were available to others on existing unemployment starting the week of March 29, and as of now are available through the end of July. If you apply and back-date your claim, then you will get those additional funds for any week after March 29th for which you receive PUA benefits, until July.

Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order to provide food sector workers, including farm workers, fast food workers, and delivery drivers at companies with more than 500 employees access to up to 80 hours of additional paid sick leave. Read the full EO here:

So there it is we’ve got at least another two weeks until we can even apply.

If you’re one of the people being impacted by the pandemic and not getting government help yet, check out our list of resources right here. And don’t forget, you can’t be evicted because of pandemic.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.