Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Temecula Wine Country is a very popular tourist destination. Many self-employed business owners, gig workers and independent contractors have had business grind to a painful halt. The financial strain has been significant but traditionally folks in this category would not typically be eligible for unemployment benefits. I work with many self-employed folks in the area and can tell you there is a lot of confusion on the topic. So, let’s get to the bottom of it shall we?

In normal times independent contractors and gig workers (Uber, Task Rabbit, AirBnB etc..) are class of workers that don’t pay into the unemployment insurance program at the state or federal level and are therefore not eligible for unemployment benefits.

However, due to the coronavirus widespread effect on the economy the CARES Act has made an exception in the form of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The base benefit regardless of income level is $167 per week (this base amount is specific to those who would not normally be covered), if you have been affected by the virus normal unemployment period is for 39 weeks. In addition, the benefit provides an additional $600 per week through the end of July just as it does for people that do pay into the unemployment system and traditionally do qualify for benefits.

Benefits are retroactive to February 2, 2020 but are only eligible to collect the additional $600 from March 29, 2020 to July 25, 2020. The base $167 per week will be available through December 26, 2020.

If you are making at least 50% of previous wages you may be eligible for additional supportive services of up to $400 if you are making less than 50% of wages eligible for up to $800, this appears to be monthly amount you will want to contact America’s Job Center locations, Elsinore, Perris, Oceanside and Hemet:

North County Coastal Career Center
1949 Avenida del Oro, Suite 106
Oceanside, CA 92056
Phone: 760-631-6150
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
** Due to California’s shelter-in-place order, contact this office for available services.

If you are a AirBnB host or an 1099 contractor and now technically qualify for unemployment benefits there is a small problem. Although you are eligible if you apply, there is currently no way for you to do so without your application being rejected. However, on April 28th the State of California estimates a new streamlined application process will be launched with the goal of getting benefit payments in the hands of applicants in just two days.

Please visit the PUA EDD page for additional details as they become available.