Usually self-employed people are not qualified for unemployment benefits but the CARES Act provides a special program for them, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI)announced that Montana’s self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits can now begin filing claims for PUA benefits. They can file on-line at mtpua.mt.gov.
“Help is now on the way for many Montanans who previously were not eligible for regular UI benefits. As Montana has such a high rate of entrepreneurialism, this will help a wide array of self-employed folks across our state,” DLI Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said.
Those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others impacted by the coronavirus will be able to file online at mtpua.mt.gov. DLI had previously directed those that are self-employed to start a claim at MontanaWorks.gov. Those individuals will receive correspondence directing them to the new PUA web system. With this new application, Montanans will now be able to simply fill out their claim, request payment and follow their claim status in one place.
Under the CARES Act legislation, those eligible for PUA benefits, are also eligible for an additional $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) stimulus payment. The payment is added to the recipient’s state weekly benefit amount. The payments will be made for eligible weeks beginning the UI week ending April 4 through July 25, 2020.
DLI expects to start issuing payments under this program to approved claimants within the next 10 days. Eligible claimants may receive payments backdated to the week of March 15, consistent with the onset of local and state social distancing directives, school closures and Governor Bullock’s “Stay at Home” directive.
In conjunction with the web portal roll-out, a new phone line will be available for individuals without internet access to file their PUA claim, or for those with claim-specific questions starting tomorrow. A new email address will also be available to those with questions. A resource guide with answers to frequently asked questions, details on the new PUA filing process and other resources is available at dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors.
In addition to the expansion of UI benefits under the CARES Act, Governor Bullock has issued directives to waive the one-week waiting period to minimize the time Montanans await UI benefits and temporarily waived the requirement that UI claimants search for a job.
DLI is providing daily updates for Montana employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19 at dli.mt.gov/covid-19. Montanans can also follow DLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for timely updates.