Covid-19 Resources for Independent Contractors

Many Independent Contractors have been adversely affected by the economic challenges presented by multiple state and local stay-at-home orders. Read more about what resources are available to help your business navigate this through this difficult time.

Unemployment Insurance

Oftentimes, self-employed people or independent contractors do not qualify for state unemployment benefits. However, the CARES Act created a program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  This  program provides unemployment compensation for individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance or any extensions to unemployment insurance. This would provide coverage to eligible self-employed workers and independent contractors who are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance. The program is expected end on or before Dec. 31, 2020.

The following are considered reasons related to COVID-19 why someone is unable to work:

  • He or she is diagnosed with COVID-19
  • He or she has symptoms of COVID-19 and is in the process of seeking a medical diagnosis
  • A household member has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • He or she is providing care to a household member with COVID-19
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual is the primary caregiver is unable to attend school or daycare due to COVID-19
  • The individual is unable to reach work due to a quarantine
  • The individual is unable to attend work because a healthcare professional advised him or her to self-quarantine
  • The individual is scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual is the sole wage earner in his or her household due to death of the head of household as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual was required to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual’s place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19
  • The individual is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, and does not have sufficient work history or otherwise would not qualify for unemployment benefits under another state unemployment program

Benefit Amounts

The CARES Act provides unemployed workers with $600 per week for each week of unemployment. However, the $600 additional weekly benefit is currently only available to workers unemployed during the eighteen-week period spanning March 30, 2020, to July 31, 2020.

How to File

Independent contractors and self-employed workers may file for unemployment insurance assistance at any time through the NC Department of Employment Insurance. However, until system updates are completed, no eligibility determinations will be made for the federal programs. Being found ineligible for state unemployment insurance does not make you ineligible for federal assistance.


The NC Department of Employment Security has created a helpful tip sheet to summarize the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. 

Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants

Independent Contractors are also eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the SBA. These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments. 

To learn more or to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants, visit the SBA’s Disaster Loan assistance website.

Additional Resources

Our Fair Share is a platform designed to help entrepreneurs prepare to apply for loans established as part of the CARES Act that if utilized according to the guidelines will be forgiven by the SBA and to enable entrepreneurs to submit applications to SBA lenders that want to provide capital to minority entrepreneurs. 

The site has a video explaining how independent contractors can benefit from the CARES Act.