By Tara Molina

 

CHICAGO (CBS) — After more than a month without financial support amid the statewide shutdown of business due to COVID-19, independent contractors will be able to receive unemployment benefits starting Monday, May 11.

Gig workers are now being urged to apply for regular unemployment benefits in advance of the May 11 launch date via the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) website.

 

Workers who file a 1099 tax form are usually not entitled to unemployment benefits. But the federal CARES Act, which provided roughly $2 trillion in support for state and local governments during the pandemic, changed that; independent contractors will now be able to receive unemployment benefits.

But the state wasn’t prepared to handle these new claims. IDES had to pay consulting giant Deloitte more than $22 million to create a new system to process independent contractors’ applications under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act.

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The state’s new PUA system is expected to be available on May 11, but the state is still urging people to apply via the normal unemployment system. Applicants will be denied, but the state says that’s a requirement for them to receive PUA benefits. Once they receive a denial, they will have to apply again via the new PUA system, according to IDES spokesperson Rebecca Cisco.

The claims will be backdated from a claimant’s first week of unemployment as far back as February 2, according ton an IDES news release. Benefits will last as long as someone remains unemployed, or December 26, 2020 — whichever comes first.