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Self-employed, gig, contract workers and others who normally would not qualify for regular unemployment benefits are now having unemployment claims processed, according to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

And another program will begin to be rolled out next week to provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment to those who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, according to the state Labor Department's Division of Employment Security.

Congress approved in late March new pandemic unemployment assistance for workers who would not usually be covered. Missouri's Labor Department last week expected to begin processing claims this week and announced the start of that Monday.

"Under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, those who qualify will be eligible for weekly benefit payments of between $133 and $320 per week plus a $600 federal supplement available under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. The federal guidelines provide the $600 federal supplement only applies to weeks that are payable from March 29, 2020, through July 25, 2020," according to a news release.

To be eligible under the PUA program, workers must file a regular unemployment claim and be denied for not being an insured worker.

The department encouraged eligible workers who have not yet filed a claim to do so at uinteract.labor.mo.gov. The website is available 24/7 and is mobile-friendly.

When filing, people are also asked to:

"Indicate 'none' when asked for states in which they have worked, unless they have worked for an employer in the last 18 months." Those who have worked for an employer in the past 18 months could be eligible for regular unemployment assistance.

Select how to receive a notification from DES. The notification will have further instructions on the information needed and how to complete the filing process for a PUA claim. Those who select electronic notification will receive an email the day after a claim is filed. All other instructions will be mailed through the U.S. Postal Service.

PUA benefits will be "retroactive to when an individual was negatively affected by the coronavirus, however, the individual will need to provide proof," according to the Labor Department's news release.

The department estimates payments should be issued within 10 days of eligibility being determined.

People who do not have enough work history or were not able to start a new job because of the pandemic are also being encouraged to apply for unemployment.

More information on the filing process for a PUA claim is available at labor.mo.gov/news/press-releases/missouri-begins-processing-claims-self-employed-and-others-ineligible-regular.

The Labor Department also announced that beginning the week of April 26, DES will begin rolling out the provisions of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program to give up to 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits to those who have already exhausted their regular benefits.

"Once the PEUC program is operational, the DES will notify all potentially eligible individuals. The DES encourages claimants who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, and still have an active benefit year, to continue to file weekly requests for payments," the department added.

The department encouraged anyone to check for additional information online before calling the DES: "check for additional information on unemployment by visiting labor.mo.gov/coronavirus, watch how-to videos at labor.mo.gov/des/videos, check for correspondence and claim status on your account at uinteract.labor.mo.gov and ask unemployment questions of the department's virtual assistant at labor.mo.gov."

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