Updated: 2021-03-11 by
As of September 6, 2021, the answer is no. The special pandemic programs Congress created to help those who have lost work due to COVID-19 (and the steps state and local governments have taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus) have now expired. These programs included:
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which made benefits available to those who wouldn't qualify for traditional unemployment benefits, including the self-employed, gig workers, those who have already used up their state benefits, and those who don't meet the work history eligibility requirement in their state.
- Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), which provided $300 more per week in benefits to unemployed workers, whether they are receiving traditional unemployment benefits or pandemic unemployment assistance.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provided additional weeks of benefits to those who are still out of work when their state benefits run out.
You must apply for unemployment benefits at the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, whether you are out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic or for any other reason. Visit the website of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training to get the latest information on how to apply; Rhode Island also has a resource page on coronavirus and unemployment benefits.
3. Can self-employed people and gig workers who have lost work due to COVID-19 collect unemployment?
Not any more. Although these contract workers were eligible for benefits temporarily under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, that program expired on September 6, 2021.
Now, unemployment is available only to employees who are out of work through no fault of their own. Non-employee workers -- freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors, and the like -- are no longer eligible for benefits for weeks of unemployment starting on or after September 6, 2021.
Whether you are unemployment for reasons relating to the coronavirus pandemic or for any other reason, your benefits will be calculated based on your state's rules. Although the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program temporarily provided an additional $300 per week in benefits, that program expired on September 6, 2021.
To learn more about how Rhode Island calculates benefit amounts, see How Much Will I Collect in Unemployment Benefits in Rhode Island.
Whether you are out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic or for any other reason, Rhode Island law determines how long benefits last.
In Rhode Island, you can receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks under state law.
If your state's unemployment rate is high when you apply for benefits, you may be eligible for extended benefits for 13 - 20 additional weeks. See How Long Will My Benefits Last in Rhode Island to learn more. Although up to 53 weeks in extra benefits were previously available under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, that program expired on September 6, 2021.
Many employees have been furloughed – placed on unpaid leave – due to COVID-19 and the state and local measures put in place to combat the spread of coronavirus. You may be eligible unemployment benefits if you are furloughed and not being paid. If you are receiving your usual pay, or you are on paid sick or family leave, however, you will not be eligible.
7. Where can I find the latest information on how Rhode Island is dealing with unemployment claims relating to coronavirus?
The best place to look is Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s website and resource page on COVID-19 and unemployment.
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To qualify for unemployment benefits in Rhode Island, you must meet a minimum earnings requirement and you must be unemployed through no fault of your own.
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