UPDATE (4/15/2020) ) The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is now accepting applications for those whom are self employed and covered under the federal CARES act.

You can apply at job.utah.gov

Individuals should apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if they have lost income due to COVID-19 and

  • are self-employed or working in the gig economy, or
  • lack sufficient work history to qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, or
  • are employed by an organization exempt from unemployment taxes, such as religious institutions, or
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have a member of their household that has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • For more information, see the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Several contract workers and self employed individuals in Utah are receiving denial letters for unemployment, despite the federal government saying they will get help.

Media outlets around the country have reported the federal government CARES Act will include gig workers, 1099 independent contractors and the self employed so many have rushed to file unemployment claims, only to be denied for being a worker that does not typically qualify.

ABC4 wanted to clarify what was happening and to offer an explanation and advice moving forward so we reached out to the Department of Workforce Services for answers.

It was originally reported that anyone who had suffered job loss or a reduction in hours should apply for unemployment. In hindsight, the DWFS said the statement was intended for individuals who have an employer and would have normally qualify for state funded Unemployment Insurance.

DWFS said their fact sheets and interviews have always clarified self-employed individuals may be ineligible and while that is still the case, that is for money allocated by the State of Utah for traditional unemployment.

Confusion came when their website was not specifically updated to reflect individuals who are self employed will be covered with the new federal funds, but cannot apply until their website is set up to receive those applications.

Related: How to file for Unemployment Benefits during COVID-19

All states, including Utah, did not receive access to those federal funds and instructions on how to implement the changes to their systems until April 5. DWFS said they are working diligently to get the process started, which is expected early next week.

Its not surprising many individuals have been confused as in the application process and self-employed individuals were not automatically informed they should not apply yet or they will be ineligible for state-funded unemployment so they were being denied on the state’s requirements for unemployment.

Related: Unemployment rates continue to skyrocket

Under the CARES Act, these individuals would then be qualified for federal funding benefits, called the ‘Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ but it is not yet available for applications.

DWFS said the benefits for the federally funded program for self-employed individuals will be applied retroactively once they have submitted a claim and it has been processed in this new program.

Related: With shutdowns, come unemployment and an economic downfall that experts say is concerning

The Unemployment website has since been updated to state:

If I have already applied for unemployment, should I also apply for this benefit? 

No, you should not apply for this benefit if you have a pending application for unemployment.  If you have applied for and did not qualify or were denied for traditional unemployment benefits, then you should apply for pandemic unemployment when the application is available if you are out of work due to COVID-19.  If you are receiving traditional unemployment insurance benefits, you may not apply and will not be eligible for this benefit.

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