Self-employed, part-time workers can receive unemployment benefits

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein recently released the following statement on unemployment benefits for self-employed, part-time and gig workers included in the coronavirus response legislation.

“The $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus signed into law last week includes new unemployment benefits for self-employed, part-time and gig workers who in the past haven’t been eligible for such benefits. These workers were made eligible because the economic damage caused by the coronavirus isn’t discriminating between different types of workers and so neither should federal benefits.

“In California, more than 2 million workers are self-employed and 3.4 million work a part-time job. The state is also home to millions of so-called ‘gig workers,’ independent contractors who work through online platforms such as Uber and Lyft. These non-traditional workers comprise as much as one- quarter of all workers in the state.

“I encourage all Californians who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic to apply for unemployment benefits if needed. Even if you weren’t eligible in the past, you may be now.”

Frequently asked questions

How do I file for unemployment insurance?

Californians can apply for unemployment benefits through the California Employment Development Department.

The best way to begin the process is by going online at

Claims can be filed online from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, from 2 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 2 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

How much can I get from unemployment insurance?

The exact amount you can receive through unemployment insurance depends on your state and your previous earnings.

Between now and July 31, an additional $600 will be added to every unemployment compensation check, so no one eligible will receive less than $600 per week.

What if I’m not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance?

The CARES Act temporarily expands unemployment insurance to cover individuals who are not traditionally covered, including the self-employed, gig-workers, independent contractors, and workers with irregular work histories.

It also expands the list of allowable criteria for claiming unemployment compensation to include many reasons related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Contact the unemployment office in the state where you worked to determine your eligibility.

What if I’ve been out of work because of COVID-19 for several weeks already?

If you exhaust the weeks of unemployment compensation available to you through your state’s laws, you will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits.

These benefits will be federally-funded, but you will still receive them through your state.

How long will the expanded benefits be in place?

Expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance will be in effect until December 31, 2020.

A $600 additional benefit will be added to unemployment compensation received for weeks between when the bill is enacted and July 31, 2020.

Is there a waiting period?

The CARES Act includes incentives for states to waive the waiting week between applying for unemployment compensation and receiving it.

Contact the unemployment office in the state where you worked to determine whether there will be a waiting week.