Today, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industry Relations (DOLIR) began accepting unemployment assistance applications from independent contractors who are Missouri residents.
Thanks in part to strong lobbying efforts by the National Association of REALTORS®, the CARES Act, approved by Congress in late March, extended unemployment benefits to independent contractors by creating the new federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program. Unemployment compensation under the PUA program provides for up to 39 weeks of benefits for individuals who are self-employed (including independent contractors). Unemployment compensation benefits are available for individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning on or after Jan. 27, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
While PUA is a federally funded program, it has been left up to the states to administer the funds, which is why most states have been slow to get the application processes in place.
The Missouri DOLIR gave the following information on its website:
Independent contractors whose businesses have been impacted by the coronavirus are encouraged to apply for unemployment assistance at www.uinteract.labor.mo.gov. Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, those who qualify will be eligible for weekly benefit payments of between $133 and $320 per week plus a $600 federal supplement.
When applying, most independent contractors will receive a notice that they are “not an insured worker” because they are not covered under the regular State of Missouri unemployment insurance system. The PUA program is not an unemployment insurance program but is instead a new federal program, administered by state unemployment agencies. In order to be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, a claimant must first be determined ineligible for regular unemployment.
Self-employed individuals filing unemployment claims should indicate “none” when asked for states in which they have worked, unless they have worked for an employer in the last 18 months. After the PUA program is operational, Missouri will contact individuals who have been determined to be ineligible for regular unemployment benefits because of insufficient wages (i.e. those who were self-employed and therefore did not have an employer to pay their unemployment taxes).
KCRAR provides more information on Financial Assistance provided in the CARES Act on KCRAR.com/caresact.
NAR offers an FAQ on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and more information on its website.
The Kansas Department of Labor reports that “The CARES Act has been signed into law to provide an additional $600 to eligible recipients of unemployment insurance and a benefit to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, etc. We have begun the process of implementing these vital programs; however, these benefits are not yet available.”
Those seeking unemployment benefits in Kansas are encouraged to check the Kansas Department of Labor website for frequent updates. KCRAR will continue to work with the Kansas Department of Labor to ensure this program is available to independent contractors as soon as possible and will update members with any new information.