Resources Regarding Unemployment During COVID-19

This is a sticky-subject, and there are no overarching answers when it comes to Workampers and unemployment. In normal times, we hope that Workampers understand that the positions they take on are seasonal, and that the purpose of unemployment insurance is to help folks who are experiencing downsizing and layoffs to maintain their lives until new employment can be found.

But we know that "normal" has gone out the window and flown the coop. There are many discussions floating around on social media, so we wanted to compile some resources that we hope will assist Workampers who believe they are qualified to file.  We are not attorneys/CPAs/state unemployment officials so we (Workamper News) can not offer direct advice as to what is the right or best path for you to follow.

Some Workampers receive a 1099 for the compensation they received from an employer, some receive a W-2, some working in trade for an RV site may receive no forms reporting the compensation as income to them.  If you have no records showing any income was reported to you, then filing for unemployment insurance traditionally is not possible as there would be no record of employment.

We recommend checking with the unemployment office for the state(s) that you most recently worked in, as well as your domicile/home base state.  There are multiple factors that will determine which state you may qualify under and which program(s) you may qualify under.

The federal government has issued additional benefits and flexibility in the guidelines due to the pandemic.  It is up to the states to implement them. Some have not been able to make the revisions to their systems yet so please try to have some patience as everyone wades through new waters.

Unemployment Benefits Finder - website here.

"To apply for unemployment benefits, select the state where you worked below. You’ll find website links and/or phone numbers to file and learn more about eligibility, benefits, and other questions you might have. Each state administers their own Unemployment Insurance program, so individual state websites are the best source for updated information."

On the website it says:

Which state do I file in?
You should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, contact the state unemployment agency in the state where you now live for information about how to file your claim with other states.

New Guidance on Unemployment Insurance Flexibility During COVID-19 - Dept of Labor article here.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

“…individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of COVID-19, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, are eligible for PUA benefits.”

Guidance on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - Dept of Labor article here.

PUA Implementation and Operating Instructions provided by DOL to the states - PDF here.

In that PDF it says,

"“Covered individuals” are those individuals not qualified for regular unemployment compensation, extended benefits under state or Federal law, or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC), including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. “Covered individuals” also include self-employed, individuals seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, or those otherwise not qualified for regular UC, extended benefits under state or federal law, or PEUC.

For purposes of PUA coverage, an individual “lacking sufficient work history” means an individual (1) with a recent attachment to the labor force (2) who does not have sufficient wages in covered employment during the last 18 months to establish a claim under regular UC, and (3) who became unemployed or partially unemployed because of one of the COVID-19 related reasons identified under Section 2102. Demonstration of a recent attachment to the labor force for PUA coverage purposes also includes individuals who had a bona fide offer to start working on a specific date and were unable to start due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons identified under Section 2102.

“Self-employed individuals” as defined in 20 C.F.R 625.2(n) means individuals whose primary reliance for income is on the performance of services in the individual’s own business, or on the individual’s own farm. These individuals include independent contractors, gig economy workers, and workers for certain religious entities."

This article on says,
“To apply for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, you must file a claim for regular benefits with the UI program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, you can file a claim in person, online, or over the phone; most states recommend filing online. When you file a claim, you must provide your Social Security number, contact information, and details about your former employment. To find out the rules in your state, check with your state's unemployment insurance program.”