Unemployment Benefits Extended for Freelancers

Learn more about how you can apply for Unemployment Insurance

As businesses have closed and vital streams of income have been cut short for performing arts companies across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a substantial increase in the need for employees to file for unemployment. 

As of March 27, 2020, unemployment benefits extended for freelancers in an effort to reach more workers affected by COVID-19. Benefits are now being extended to self-employed individuals and independent contractors (receive 1099s) and other folks who are traditionally not eligible. Additionally, $600 per week on top of regular benefits will be provided to all recipients and coverage will be expanded additional 13 weeks on top of your state’s usual number of weeks provided (New York State’s usual number of weeks provided is 26 weeks for a total of 39 weeks of coverage). Click here for a helpful FAQ on UI benefits updates.

Each state has specific filing policies and requirements. At this time, New York State has waived the 7 day waiting period for UI benefits for those out of work due to Coronavirus closures or quarantines. Check this database for information for other states.

New Yorkers should apply for Unemployment Insurance based on the first letter of their last name. 

  • A – F file on Monday

  • G – N file on Tuesday

  • O – Z file on Wednesday. 

If you’ve missed your date, you can file on Thursday to Sunday. Here is a step by step process on how to apply for insurance online in New York State. As there is such a high volume of calls every day, they urge that filing online is the best and most efficient way to file for UI.

The NYS government has released a guide that is helpful for self-employed and independent contractors who need to file for UI for the first time. As self-employed individuals have not been able to file for UI benefits in the past, some of the language used by the online filing system when applying might not feel relevant, please review the guide to determine how best to move forward.

List of materials needed to file your claim from NYS Department of Labor website:

  • Your Social Security number

  • Your driver license or Motor Vehicle ID card number (if you have either one)

  • Your complete mailing address and zip code

  • A phone number where we can reach you from 8 am – 5 pm, Monday –Friday

  • Your Alien Registration card number (if you are not a U.S. Citizen and have a card)

  • Names and addresses of all your employers for the last 18 months, including those in other states

  • Employer Registration number or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) of your most recent employer (FEIN is on your W-2 forms)

  • Your copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you were a federal employee

  • Your most recent separation form (DD 214), for military service

You can file a claim without all of these documents. However, missing information can delay your first payment. If you cannot print web pages, have a pen and paper to copy information. If you choose a direct deposit of your weekly benefits, you need a check that has your bank routing and checking account numbers.

Pentacle remains dedicated to continuing to provide a high level of support to artists during these extraordinary circumstances. Alongside many other key and respected organizations in the field, we have begun accumulating and curating resources for artists and organizations experiencing income loss and other troubles as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Find our list of resources here.

Pentacle-nextSteps | DATE 04.10.2020

Pentacle’s nextSteps is supported, in part, by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Pentacle receives private support for nextSteps from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and The Howard Gilman Foundation.

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