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How to apply for unemployment benefits for self-employed, contractors, gig workers

The application for pandemic assistance under the CARES Act will provide additional benefits to those who have lost work because of COVID-19.

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) started accepting applications Monday for unemployment benefits from those who have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was passed by Congress and provides $600 a week in unemployment benefits to those who have lost income due to COVID-19. These federal benefits are in addition to regular unemployment benefits from the state.

The application for pandemic unemployment assistance became available Monday at coloradoui.gov. To file an application, click on the button that says "File a PUA Claim."

Among those who can apply for the benefits are the self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers, like Uber and Lyft drivers, and also anyone who's out of work because of COVID-19. Examples are someone caring for a child who's out of school, or someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits also could be eligible for pandemic assistance.

The pandemic assistance is retroactive to March 29. Those who are eligible will begin getting the additional benefits next week.

Those who are receiving several weeks of retroactive benefits might not get a lump sum of the benefits all at once. The money could come in several deposits.

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CDLE said they expect high demand for these benefits. The state website can accept several thousand applications per hour, but applicants might not be able to access the application at times of heavy volume. CDLE urged patience and said if you have difficulty applying, wait awhile and try again.

Before filling out the application, applicants should have their 2019 tax information available and, if possible, have those documents saved to their computer. If 2019 taxes aren't available, CDLE will accept 2018 tax information.

Anyone who already receives regular unemployment benefits and is eligible for pandemic assistance doesn't have to do anything more to get the additional benefits. The extra $600 per week will be added automatically to their benefits.

To determine the amount of your benefits, use the benefits calculator on the CDLE website. The calculator doesn't include the pandemic assistance, so those who are eligible should add $600 to the amount.

CDLE said Monday that they've made progress on resolving issues on assigning PINs to applicants and are now sending PINs via email, instead of by regular mail. If an applicant doesn't give an email address, they might receive their PIN via a robocall.

Have patience in receiving your PIN, CDLE said: If you don't receive it within three to four days before your payment date, you can request a new PIN on the CDLE website.

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