By Lauren Swanson | Posted 4.24.20

According to the most recently completed census data, about 15% of Summit County residents are self-employed to some degree. Until April 20, 2020, freelancers, 1099 independent contractors, app-based workers, carpenters, and consultants have all been left to wonder what kind of assistance is available for self-employed workers impacted by COVID-19.

Like many Breckenridge households, our income has been affected by COVID-19 pandemic. As independent contractors, my partner and I have never been eligible for employment benefits or on the contrary, unemployment assistance. So, when the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment began accepting applications for self-employed individuals to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim, we had a lot of questions: Do we qualify? What if we’re still working part-time? What if we make the majority of our income seasonally in the summer? What type of proof of income do they need? Will it ever stop snowing?

Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but as someone who has filled out the application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), I can share my experience.

Do we qualify?

PUA is designed for business owners, sole proprietors, gig-economy workers, freelancers, app-based workers, and other 1099 independent contractors to access assistance if they meet eligibility requirements.

What if you’re still working part-time?

One of the first questions in the ‘Pandemic Claim Information’ section asks if you are unemployed because of COVID-19. It seems straightforward, but what if your hours were reduced, or if you’re working to replace that income? YES, seems like the obvious answer, but this has always felt like a grey area for folks who don’t receive income on a traditional pay schedule. Perhaps it should say, ‘Yes – my income has been reduced or eliminated because of COVID-19’.

How/where can I explain partial unemployment status?

Later on in the application you have the opportunity to explain a partial unemployment status. Check “None of the above apply to me” to get there. Answering ‘None of the above’ displays options to report reduced hours or pay, furloughed, gig economy workers, independent contractors, etc.. There is also a place to write a detailed explanation about your unemployment status.

Hopefully this assistance will help the self employed community avoid a vulnerable financial position and be able to be apart of the Summit County business community.

Lauren is a digital marketing consultant who moonlights at the Breckenridge Welcome Center. Her favorite quarantine takeout is the Mac & Cheese and a Canteen Ahhh Rita from the Canteen Tap House & Tavern. While social-distancing, Lauren has been staying active on the XC trails of her Peak 7 neighborhood.