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Associate dentists, independent contractors may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Program assists individuals who don’t qualify for SBA loans, regular unemployment benefits

April 29, 2020 10995

Associate dentists who are independent contractors or sole proprietors can apply online now for weekly financial benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Recent dental school graduates and others who lack sufficient work history, may also qualify for the COVID-19-related emergency unemployment assistance.

Associate dentists who are independent contractors or sole proprietors can apply online now for weekly financial benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Recent dental school graduates and others who lack sufficient work history may also qualify for the COVID-19-related emergency unemployment assistance.

Established in March by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and administered by the California Employment Development Department, PUA provides financial assistance to unemployed or partially unemployed individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance and who are unable or unavailable to work for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The EDD began accepting applications April 27, but qualified individuals may be able to receive assistance backdated to earlier in the public health emergency. 

The program temporarily extends unemployment benefits through Dec. 31 to workers who:

  • Are independent contractors
  • Are self-employed
  • Lack sufficient work history
  • Have exhausted their regular UI benefits and any extended UI benefits
  • Meet one of the qualifying COVID-19 criteria

Many independent contractors or sole proprietors who are ineligible for regular unemployment insurance or who had difficulty taking advantage of the Small Business Administration’s EIDL and PPP loan may qualify for PUA and are encouraged to apply now. 

PUA benefit amounts

The weekly benefit amount depends on the applicant’s proof of prior earnings but may be equal to the amount received under regular unemployment insurance plus an additional $600 per week for weeks between March 29 and July 25 through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

The CARES Act in March also established two new unemployment assistance programs: the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. A recent CDA article describes both of these programs and also states that the EDD recommends that “employees or independent contractors who remain unsure of their eligibility for PUA file a claim for regular unemployment insurance benefits.” The EDD will determine the applicant’s eligibility for PUA.

File a PUA claim online through the EDD. Before applying, read the EDD’s Unemployment Benefits Guide, which lists documents you’ll need to apply and explains what to expect after you submit your application.

Find more COVID-19 resources and news for dentists at cda.org/covid19.