The second stimulus package tightens the rules for millions of gig workers, independent contractors and the self-employed receiving unemployment benefits.
On December 27, the $ 900 billion stimulus package extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a critical benefits program for people who normally are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. The deal extended PUA benefits by at least 11 weeks, but also created new registration rules that affect both current recipients and new applicants.
Most importantly, under the new rules, you’ll need to file income records with the state employment agency if you’re a gig worker or self-employed person – or you risk losing future benefits and have to refund services collected after December 27th.
“I think they’re a real problem,” said Michele Evermore, an unemployment policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, of the new PUA enrollment rules. “Not only for recipients, but also for government agencies to collect. Any burden we place on the government slows down the processing of benefits for all. “
The new requirements are designed to combat fraud. According to the Ministry of Labor, more than 7.4 million people rely on PUAs and are subject to the changes.
New rules and deadlines for pandemic unemployment assistance
The new deadlines of the second stimulus package differ for current PUA recipients and new applicants.
As a current PUA recipient, you have until March 27 to submit income-related documents to prove your PUA eligibility. If you apply for PUA before January 31st, you also have until March 27th.
If you apply for PUA on January 31st or later, you have 21 days from the date of your application to submit income-related documents.
The Ministry of Labor requires every state to inform you about their country-specific rules. Your state can have different deadlines. In this case, refer to the instructions of your state. The DOL also leaves it up to each state to determine exactly which documents are required to prove your eligibility.
Here are some examples of documents your state may require you to include:
- Tax forms like 1099s and W-2s.
- Ledger, current payrolls, and income statements from gig apps.
- Current account statements with direct payments.
If you are self-employed, you may need to submit:
- Federal or state income tax filings.
- A business license.
- A 1040 tax form along with an Appendix C, F, SE, or K.
- Additional records to show that you are self-employed, such as utility bills, leases, or checks.
If you qualify for PUA because you wanted to start a job but the offer has been withdrawn for COVID-19 reasons, you may be asked to send a letter of offer, employer details, and other information about the job to Review Your Eligibility.
Another new rule is that you must self-certify that you meet one or more of the following PUA admission requirements on a weekly basis:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are looking for a diagnosis.
- A member of your household has COVID-19.
- You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
- You are looking after a child or other household member who cannot go to school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
- You will be placed in quarantine by order of a doctor or health officer.
- It was planned that you would take up employment and not have a job or be unable to get to work due to the pandemic.
- You have become the breadwinner of a household because the head of household died of COVID-19.
- You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
- Your workplace is directly closed due to COVID-19.
Self-certification means that you swear that the reason you are given PUA is risk of perjury or is true. Until now, PUA applicants only had to certify themselves once at the time of their initial application.
According to Evermore, since they were not asked to provide all of this information when they were first approved, current PUA recipients may no longer have access to the requested documents.
“People who have been told they don’t need documentation may have lost it and this will cause panic, adding to stress for people who have had an unimaginably bad year,” she said.
The good news, says Evermore, is that states are lenient to waive some of these requirements if you can demonstrate that you cannot submit the requested documents for good reason. What is considered a “good reason” is also determined from state to state.
“People who have been approved for services in the past are not necessarily cut off just because they are unable to provide the required documentation,” Evermore said. “Just follow all the agency’s instructions carefully.”
Adam Hardy works for The Penny Hoarder. It covers the gig economy, remote work, and other unique ways to make money. Read hisLatest articles hereor say hello on twitter @hardyjournalism.