Self employed? Don’t give up on unemployment benefits

Louisiana is one of only two states providing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Self employed? Don’t give up on unemployment benefits
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) official asks for patients, but assures self-employed those eligible will receive benefits. (Source: WAFB)

While the process may be frustrating state officials say many self-employed people will get help from pandemic unemployment funds, it’s just taking time to get everyone processed. Many self-employed and those that have a short work history where their employer had not paid enough into unemployment insurance will get a notice similar to the one below with red print stating not "monetarily eligible.”

Secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission Ava Dejoie says that form only applies to regular state funds and is just a first step in the state gathering information to distribute Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

People that typically receive a 1099 and those that fall into the short employer history are eligible for those payments and that notice does not represent a denial.

People that typically receive a 1099 and those that fall into the short employer history are eligible for those payments and that notice does not represent a denial.
People that typically receive a 1099 and those that fall into the short employer history are eligible for those payments and that notice does not represent a denial. (Source: WVUE)
People that typically receive a 1099 and those that fall into the short employer history are eligible for those payments and that notice does not represent a denial.
People that typically receive a 1099 and those that fall into the short employer history are eligible for those payments and that notice does not represent a denial. (Source: WVUE)

Congress dictated that the funds for those programs would be distributed through the states existing unemployment vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) notified the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) that it is only one of two states in the nation currently administering Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Dejoie shared the state’s experience with disaster unemployment allowed the office to begin administering the program more quickly. PUA and state Unemployment Insurance (UI) are the main entry points for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

Self-employed or those that receive 1099 must be eligible for PUA in order to receive FPUC.

PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) as defined under the Federal CARES Act, provides up to 39 weeks of Federal Unemployment Benefits to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, otherwise not qualified for state unemployment, unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation provides an additional $600 benefit to any individual who is collecting at least $1 from State Unemployment Benefits or Federal Unemployment Benefits (i.e., PUA.) PUA payments are either $107 or $247 per week based on individual circumstances.

Since March 29, 2020, LWC records indicate that the agency has paid a total of $252,687,123 of benefits and assistance to the residents of Louisiana. From Monday, April 13, 2020, through 8 a.m. Wednesday morning April 15th, the LWC has paid a total of $203,328,113.92 of benefit assistance to eligible claimants.

“The Louisiana Workforce Commission is proud to be leading the way in providing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to those most in need during this unprecedented event,” said Dejoie. “The LWC will remain fully mobilized to process claims, assist individuals and provide monetary compensation as quickly as possible to those who need it most.”

While the commission is adding man-hours especially during peak times to try to answer questions and facilitate claims Dejoie says the numbers make it difficult to keep up and she asks that those that have yet to see payments continue to file weekly updates.

The best way for us to make sure you receive payments is to file the regular weekly updates,” said Dejoie.

The LWC says claimants’ eligibility for the assistance is determined when the initial claim is filed. Claimants need only to continue to recertify their claims each week in order to continue receiving compensation.

The LWC understands many individuals who file their unemployment claims are experiencing delays in receiving their benefit payment, but amounts will be retroactive to April 4, 2020, once payments begin.

Dejoie said all individuals will receive the funds they are entitled under the plan. With tens of thousands of residents receiving payments in such a short time frame, our system has experienced issues, but we are focused on resolving them and getting these funds out to all the residents of Louisiana.

The LWC website offers resources for employers and job seekers Job-seekers can explore careers, apply for top-rated jobs and connect with local training providers using Louisiana Star Jobs, the LWC’s free career tool, at http://www.laworks.net/Stars/.

Employers looking for workers should visit Louisiana’s employment homepage at www.laworks.net. Click on HiRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) and create an account allowing access to qualified job seekers.

Dejoie says the best way to check for fund distribution is through your personal bank account as a large number of applicants slow and stall the LWC system at peak times.