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Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits for Freelancers

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Unemployment Benefits for Freelancers During Pandemic

As a freelance teacher, we at Freelancing Buzz are here to support you during the highs and lows of working in the gig economy. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, you may be facing a low time right now. Thankfully, for the first time in history, there may be financial help available for freelancers. Whether you are a freelancing content writer, freelance web developer, or you do freelance graphic design work, you could qualify for unemployment benefits should you lose your clients as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Trump signed the CARES Act as a result of the massive unemployment that has occurred as a result of coronavirus. For the first time, individuals who are self-employed or who are working as independent contractors are eligible to receive state unemployment benefits. Of course, you must be “able to work but unable to do your job as a result of the pandemic” to be eligible to receive the benefits.

To figure out how much you could receive in unemployment, contact your state’s unemployment department. Once you have determined the amount of unemployment benefits that you are eligible to get from your state, add $600 per week that comes from the CARES Act.

For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, California workers can earn about 46% of working wages, with a maximum benefit of $450 per week. On top of that amount, Californians could add $600 per week that comes from the federal government’s CARES Act. This means that freelancers in California may be able to draw $4,200 per month in unemployment.

The amount, of course, varies from state to state, so you need to check with your local unemployment office to see what percentage of your average salary you could be eligible to receive.

As you look at the amount that you could receive in unemployment as a freelancer, you may realize that you would make more collecting unemployment than you regularly do working as a freelancer each week. This may be true for other Americans as well. 

What is important to know is that the extra $600 per week that you will receive through the CARES Act will end at the end of July. If your employment is uncertain, you may want to save back some of these “extra” funds that you are receiving each month to help pay your bills after July.

Currently, freelancers are eligible to collect unemployment benefits for 39 weeks or until the end of the year, whichever comes first. It is unsure whether or not unemployment will be available for freelancers after the first of the year.

To receive these benefits, contact your state’s unemployment office. Those working at unemployment offices across the country describe a tremendous backlog. That and slow computer systems are delaying the process. In fact, according to this article on VOX, most freelancers who have applied for unemployment still have not received any aid as of the last few days of April.

We know that a lot of the news we have shared with you seems rather dire. After all, no one wants to hear how difficult it is to receive the benefits, and that those benefits may expire well before coronavirus goes away.

Instead, we prefer to look at the silver lining.

1. Freelancers are used to a flexible income.

The good news is that most freelancers are used to earning a flexible income. Like commissioned salespeople, freelancers may be used to the feast or famine mentality. They know to save money on particularly good months, so they can get by during months when the jobs don’t seem as plentiful.

2. Freelancers are used to hustling.

Most freelancers had to work hard to build their client base. They built their business from scratch, adding one client at a time. Some freelancers did this while also working their regular 9 to 5 job. They no the importance of trial and error, and they know that freelance positions do not last forever.

Others who work outside of the gig economy may freak out if they lose their jobs. A freelancer will shrug and immediately begin to write more proposals.

3. Talented freelancers can work in multiple industries.

We know that if you are a niche writer in the travel industry, you probably aren’t getting many jobs right now. The good news is those good writers can write about anything. Even though the travel industry is suffering, some industries are doing incredibly well. 

Let us know your experience with being an unemployed freelancer. Were you able to apply for unemployment benefits through your state easily? Have you received the money yet?

This article was originally posted at Freelancing buzz.

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