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Economy

Help coming to Michigan's self-employed and gig workers left jobless by COVID-19

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Starting Monday, Michiganders who are self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors and other low income workers who’ve lost work because of COVID-19 can apply for special unemployment benefits.

More than 800,000 Michiganders have applied for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the state in mid-March. But people who are self-employed and some low income workers have faced obstacles.

“Ensuring Michiganders have access to state and federal benefits during this pandemic is a critical part in protecting everyone’s health and safety,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release. “We will do everything we can to continue providing emergency financial assistance as quickly as possible to the Michigan working families who have lost income as a result of COVID-19.”  

The recently enacted federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act contains funding for those often excluded from getting unemployment benefits.

Newly eligible workers who have yet to apply for unemployment benefits Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers can apply for federal benefits beginning Monday, April 13 at 8AM online at Michigan.gov/UIA. Online is the fastest and easiest way to access these benefits. Workers need to use the UIA’s daily filing schedule based on their last names which can be found below. For example, last names beginning with letters A-L should start filing claims Monday. Newly eligible workers who have been previously denied benefits Self-employed workers, gig workers, 1099-independent contractors and low-wage workers who have previously applied for unemployment benefits and have been denied should login to their MiWAM account to complete the next steps for PUA federal benefits. These steps will also be emailed to workers. They should not file a new claim, as that may delay the time it takes to get their benefits. All newly eligible workers will need to provide proof of income to receive the maximum amount they are entitled. This could include W-2s, 1099 tax forms, and pay stubs. These workers will begin receiving federal benefits as early as April 20 after their bi-weekly certification. Individuals on paid sick leave or other paid leave – and those who have the ability to telework with pay – are not eligible for PUA.

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