Can You Get Unemployment Benefits While Self-Employed?

Working for yourself can have a lot of advantages. You can have flexibility with your work hours and where you work. There is no one to hold you back from setting some serious goals. One serious drawback to working for yourself is that at some points you could find yourself not having any income coming in. Even if you have a nest egg saved for this kind of event, it may not be enough to get you by for very long. At some point, you may find yourself wondering if there is any help that someone in your situation may be able to get from the government. While many self-employed individuals are not able to qualify for unemployment benefits, there are some other government benefits that may be of some use.

State Programs

Each state administers their own set of unemployment benefits and insurance to employees who lost their jobs to no fault of their own. The reason that self-employed individuals are not able to get unemployment from the state is that the funding for these programs is offered by the employers and their state and federal payroll taxes. In 1935, Congress created unemployment insurance through the Social Security Act. Both the federal and state laws together determine who is eligible for the unemployment compensation and how much they can get and for how long. For unemployed workers to be able to receive this benefit, they must have earned a minimum amount of wages through working from their employer which was paid to the unemployment insurance tax.

Incorporation Consideration

If you consider yourself to be self-employed but your company is incorporated and pays out unemployment taxes, you may find that you are eligible to receive the benefits. Aside from paying the taxes, you are generally paying wages to your employees that amount to more than $1,500 or more in any quarter of the calendar year. Also, your company must have had at least one worker on one day of the week during at least twenty weeks of the calendar year. The weeks do not have to be consecutive. You can contact your local state unemployment office for more information about your eligibility for unemployment benefits.


Military Benefits

If you were originally self-employed but then you spent some time on active duty with a branch of the United States military, you may find yourself eligible for some form of unemployment benefits. These benefits would come from the Unemployment Compensation program for Ex-service military members, or UCX. This is a program that offers benefits to the unemployed and eligible ex-military individuals. These benefits are administered through the state agencies and the laws of each state will determine who is eligible and for how much. They will also determine how long someone can receive the benefits and what must be done in order to qualify for unemployment eligibility benefits. In any case, a person must have been discharged from the military with an honorable discharge. If you were let go from the military with a dishonorable discharge, you will not be eligible to apply for the unemployment benefits.

When Disaster Strikes

If a major disaster strikes in the area where you run your self-employment business and lose your livelihood to survive financially, even temporarily, you may be able to get some assistance through the federal government's Disaster Unemployment Assistance program. This program comes into effect when major disasters strike which are caused by a natural phenomenon or otherwise. The event would have to be declared by the president in order for the program to be opened to the public. The program offers benefits to self-employed workers and regular workers in the area of the disaster to get help. The benefits can also help someone if their workplace has been destroyed or heavily damaged to the point where work cannot commence.

If you were injured during the disaster, you may also be eligible to receive some assistance. For those that qualify to receive the assistance, the benefits will begin the first day of the following week after the president has declared the disaster and opened the program up. The benefits will continue for those eligible for up to 26 weeks. Unemployment laws in each state will determine how much help people will be able to receive.