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50,000 Gig, 1099 Workers Rush To File For Unemployment After Waiting 8 Weeks

The surge in claims comes after weeks where workers were stuck in limbo, unable to receive benefits even though they were forced out of work by the stay at home order.

Smith & Davis Salon was forced to close.
Smith & Davis Salon / Facebook
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CHICAGO — Tens of thousands of 1099 and gig workers have filed for unemployment in just the past day, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

The system for such workers to file claims only launched on Monday, but already more than 68,000 people have used the online portal for it and 50,000 people successfully filed claims, Pritzker said during a Tuesday press conference.

The system, called the Pandemic Unemployment Benefits program, allows sole proprietors, 1099 workers and other non-traditional workers to receive unemployment benefits. Claims are being processed and payments will start going out in the weeks ahead.

The surge in claims comes after weeks where 1099 workers were stuck in limbo, unable to receive benefits even though they were forced out of work by the state’s stay at home order.

Because such workers have not been eligible for unemployment in the past, the state had to partner with contractors to build a system for handling those claims, Pritzker said. The state also had to wait for funds from the federal government to pay the 1099 workers.

“It is working reasonably well,” Pritzker said. The system that “was stood up is a more robust system than the existing one for regular unemployment that we’ve been building up.”

Those who need to apply for the special program must first file a regular unemployment claim online or over the phone, though Pritzker has recommended people file online.

Once the claim is denied by the regular system, the applicant can then apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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