Contract workers and freelancers in Illinois who have found themselves out of work due to the pandemic can now file for federally-funded unemployment benefits.
The state opened its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) portal (which you can access at this link) this morning. The program gives independent workers who typically file 1099 tax forms (and therefore aren't covered through other avenues in the unemployment insurance program) access to benefits due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Employment Services said tens of thousands of PUA applications have been filed since the portal became active Monday morning.
“While a program of this magnitude would normally take up to year to design and implement, the department worked swiftly with an outside vendor to get the program up and running within four weeks,” the spokesperson said.
Housekeeper and personal assistant Gail Steinborn said she has not received a paycheck since March 13 because of the virus.
She told NBC 5 she applied for the PUA this morning and is waiting to hear what happens next.
“I just feel for all the other 1099 employees like me,” Steinborn said. “I hope they get through and we can get some kind of relief and at least some kind of recognition that this has been a rough road for all of us.”
The program is funded in part through the CARES Act, a federal bill designed to help individuals and organizations impacted by the pandemic.