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Self-employed workers and independent contractors in Arkansas who are out of work because of the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), state officials announced late Monday.
Individuals can apply online for the PUA benefits from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week. Applicants can also call 1-844-908-2178 from 6 a.m.-4 p.m.
Those eligible for PUA benefits are:
- Nonprofit employees;
- Gig economy workers;
- Individuals who work for employers exempt from participating in the regular unemployment insurance program;
- Part-time workers without enough work history to qualify for regular unemployment benefits; and
- Individuals impacted by COVID-19 but who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits due to a prior disqualification.
The program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits with weekly payments ranging from $133 to $451, based on income from the previous tax year (2019). The assistance period begins with the week ending Feb. 8 and ends with the week ending Dec. 26.
For those who qualify, the program will apply retroactively to the date they became unemployed for a qualifying coronavirus-related reason.
PUA recipients will also automatically qualify for an additional $600 each week for the first 13 weeks of eligibility under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. This will apply to the week ending April 4 through the week ending July 25.