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How to Get Unemployment Benefits If You Are Self-Employed

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If you are currently out of work because of no fault of your own, check with your state unemployment office to see if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. Even if you were considered self-employed when you last worked, you may be eligible. There are some situations in which you would be able to get unemployment benefits even if you were self-employed.

Talk to your state unemployment office to find out if you were misclassified as self-employed. Courts in California and Oregon have ruled that long-term contractors who were functioning similarly to at-will employees should be treated as such and are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Apply for unemployment benefits if your business is incorporated and you can't find work. You should be eligible as long as the corporation paid unemployment insurance.

Apply to your state unemployment office if you are not working and you live in a region affected by a disaster. If you lost your employment because of a disaster, you should be eligible to receive disaster unemployment assistance even if you are self-employed.

If you are an ex-military service member who was self-employed before entering the service, apply at the state office of the state you reside in after leaving the service, regardless of where you lived before. You should be eligible for unemployment compensation for ex-service members, or UCX, a federal program administered by the states that functions similarly to state unemployment programs.

Talk to your state unemployment office if you have started your own company since being laid off. Under a special program, you may be eligible for a self-employment allowance while you are establishing your business.


Sometimes the easiest and fastest way to find out if you are eligible for unemployment benefits is to simply apply to your state unemployment office and wait to hear from them. They will contact you about anything that may disqualify you.


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