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:
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.