NC Self-Employed Workers ‘Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ (PUA) Update

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RALEIGH, NC – Starting on Friday, April 24, 2020, North Carolina independent contractors and self-employed workers who have lost work due to the Coronavirus pandemic will be able to file for Unemployment Insurance online at through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.  This PUA federal program provides assistance for people who aren’t traditionally covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Details on how to apply from the NC Department of Commerce website:

  • “If you are an independent contractor or self-employed worker who was laid off or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, the online benefits system will determine whether you are eligible for state unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through a single application.”
  • “If you applied and were denied for state unemployment benefits before April 24, we may need additional information to determine whether you are eligible for PUA. Sign into your online account and click on the ‘Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ link to complete the process. If your claim is listed as ‘pending,’ we are still reviewing your eligibility for state unemployment benefits. You may not apply for PUA while your claim is pending.”
  • “If you are currently receiving state unemployment benefits, you are not eligible for PUA.”

As with all UI claims, you must certify weekly in order to receive your benefits.  Per the Governor’s Executive Order No 118, you may answer the question “Did you look for work?” in the affirmative “yes” if the reason you lost work was due to COVID-19.

PUA will also qualify for the additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and you do not need to file separately to receive the additional benefits.  Details about the documents that you will need to provide in order to file for PUA/UI can be found at

Assistant Secretary of the Division of Employment Security Lockhart Taylor has also explained that they are rapidly increasing their ability to respond quicker by hiring 600 additional call takers.  Taylor’s division has taken about 690,000 unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic.  Per, “The division said it took in 17,000 claims Monday and that it has paid out more than half a billion dollars in unemployment benefits since March 15. Most of that was funded by federal legislation that added an extra $600 a week to the state’s benefits, which are usually among the lowest in the nation.”

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