HELENA - The Montana Department of Labor and Industry announced Tuesday that Montana's self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits can begin filing claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits expanded under the recently passed CARES Act starting Wednesday.
"Help is now on the way for many Montanans who previously were not eligible for regular UI benefits. As Montana has such a high rate of entrepreneurialism, this will help a wide array of self-employed folks across our state," DLI Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said. "We know many Montanans are still facing an uncertain future, and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry is working as quickly as possible to serve our customers."
People who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and others impacted by the coronavirus will be able to file online at mtpua.mt.gov. DLI had previously directed those that are self-employed to start a claim at MontanaWorks.gov. Those individuals will receive correspondence directing them to the new PUA web system. With this new application, Montanans will now be able to simply fill out their claim, request payment and follow their claim status in one place.
Under the CARES Act legislation, people eligible for PUA benefits, are also eligible for an additional $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation stimulus payment. The payment is added to the recipient's state weekly benefit amount. The payments will be made for eligible weeks beginning the UI week ending April 4 through July 25, 2020.
DLI expects to start issuing payments under this program to approved claimants within the next 10 days from Tuesday. Eligible claimants may receive payments backdated to the week of March 15, consistent with the onset of local and state social distancing directives, school closures and Governor Bullock's "Stay at Home" directive.
In conjunction with the web portal roll-out, a new phone line will be available for individuals without internet access to file their PUA claim, or for those with claim-specific questions starting tomorrow. A new email address will also be available to those with questions. A resource guide with answers to frequently asked questions, details on the new PUA filing process and other resources is available at http://dli.mt.gov/self-employed-contractors.
In addition to the expansion of UI benefits under the CARES Act, Gov. Steve Bullock has issued directives to waive the one-week waiting period to minimize the time Montanans await UI benefits and temporarily waived the requirement that UI claimants search for a job.
DLI is providing daily updates for Montana employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19 at http://dli.mt.gov/covid-19. Montanans can also follow DLI on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for timely updates.