Self-employed, independent contractors encouraged to pre-apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahomans who do not qualify for traditional unemployment insurance compensation can now submit pre-applications to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission if they were impacted by COVID-19.

The federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits are intended for gig workers, independent contractors, other self-employed individuals, and workers whose regular unemployment benefits have expired and were laid off, furloughed, or are out of work due to the pandemic.

“We want people to register and complete the pre-application process even though Oklahoma is
not yet authorized to begin paying these benefits,” said OESC Executive Director Robin Roberson.
“This is an important first-step in being able to receive this relief as quickly as possible when the
state is ready to begin processing these claims.”

PUA applicants are asked to click on the Get Started button on the website and begin the pre-application process.

“We encourage everyone who doesn’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits to complete the PUA pre-application,” Roberson said. “Once you’ve completed the PUA pre-application, you’re already in line when we begin paying out this relief.”

Officials say the funding for the PUA is still pending. All payments for relief will be backdated to the date the job loss or business closure occurred.

Approved applicants will also receive the $600 additional weekly benefit through the week ending July 25, 2020.

PUA applicants should ensure they qualify and have all required information on hand before beginning the pre-application process. Individuals who have been denied regular unemployment benefits should apply for PUA compensation for COVID-19 related job loss.

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