New Jersey Implements First Payments of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for Free-Lancers, Self-Employed and Other Covered Individuals

By Rachel Feingold

On May 5, 2020, New Jersey began its first payments of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) , a new type of unemployment insurance established by the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES ACT), signed into law on March 27, 2020.  PUA allows those who are not normally eligible for traditional unemployment, such as free-lancers, self-employed individuals and independent contractors, to now receive compensation.  Although payments of PUA have just begun, they are available retroactively for qualifying individuals for periods of unemployment that began after February 2, 2020.  Those who qualify may collect a total of 39 weeks of benefits, including an additional $600 per week for each week they were eligible for PUA since March 29, 2020.  You may qualify for PUA benefits under the following circumstances:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or with COVID-19 symptoms and are currently seeking a diagnosis
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are a primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19
  • You were scheduled to commence new employment and cannot reach your workplace as a direct result of COVID-19
  • You are now the major breadwinner because the head of your household passed away from COVID-19
  • You quit job your job as a direct result of COVID-19 (eligibility may vary)
  • Your place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
  • You are: self-employed/ independent contractor/1099 filer/farmer and affected by COVID-19
  • You are seeking part-time employment but affected by COVID-19
  • You have insufficient work history and are affected by COVID-19

In order to qualify for PUA you must first apply for traditional unemployment and be denied.  For more information and for frequently asked questions, please visit the following links:

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