Steps to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed & independent contractors

Many employees who work as independent contractors (like gig workers) and self-employed individuals, do not pay into the state unemployment systems and may not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. These employees don’t receive a W-2 form from an employer, instead they may receive a 1099 from their clients.

Starting this week, qualifying Illinois workers may apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) by following these steps:

STEP 1 File for Regular Unemployment

All workers (even self-employed and independent contractors) must first file for regular unemployment benefits. If you have NOT yet applied start the process here. Read Top 5 Tips to Avoid Common Application Issues.

If approved, you will receive regular benefits and cannot file for PUA benefits.

If you have already applied for regular benefits, do not re-apply. Proceed to Step 2 only if you have been denied regular unemployments benefits.

STEP 2File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Only complete this step if you have been denied regular unemployment benefits in the last twelve months.

Complete the online PUA Application process. Be prepared, you will need to upload tax forms showing income. Acceptable proof of wage/income information include:

  • 1040 tax forms for the 2019 tax year
  • Form 1040, Schedule C
  • Form 1040, Schedule C-EZ
  • Form 1040-SR, Schedule C
  • Form 1040-SR, Schedule C-EZ
  • Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)
  • Other forms will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

NOTE: If you do not upload your tax form on the day that you file, you are required do so within 21 days of the date of filing.

STEP 3Receive Decision

You will be sent notification of the state’s decision. If approved for Pandemic Unemployment Benefits, payment is typically made within one week of approval by direct deposit or onto the debit card mailed to you.

If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision within 30 days. You will receive instructions on how to appeal.