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Unemployment Benefits for Contractors, Gig Workers, and Self-Employed

If you are an independent contractor, a gig worker, or are self-employed in Texas, and you are out of work due to COVID-19, you may qualify for unemployment benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Texans who fall into the above categories should use the Unemployment Benefits Services system to apply for federal unemployment benefits. You can begin the application process by following this link.

If you need help applying, consult the Unemployment Application Guide.

For more information, see Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

Do I Qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

The Texas Workforce Commission has established that PUA benefits may be available for: 

  • Self-employed workers — individuals who are self-employed, contract workers or who previously worked in a position that did not report wages.
  • Individuals seeking part-time employment.
  • Gig economy workers.

For more information, also see Self-Employed Texans and the CARES Act.

When Should I Apply?

Eligible independent contractors, gig workers, and self-employed Texans should apply for benefits immediately after you become unemployed or underemployed. You can begin the application process by following this link or, if you do not have internet access, call 1-800-939-6631.

When should I submit my application?

When submitting the application, select “reduced hours” as the reason for job separation. If the reduced hours are related to the pandemic, be sure to select “COVID-19” under the disaster impact section. Complete each question provided after the appropriate selection, and then submit the application.

You will also need to provide the following information:

  • Last employer's business name and address
  • First and last dates (month, day and year) you worked for your last employer
  • Number of hours worked and pay rate if you worked this week (including Sunday)
  • Information related to your normal wage
  • Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen or national)

If you need help applying, consult the Unemployment Application Guide.

What Tax Information Do I Need to Submit?

To qualify for PUA, Texans independent contractors, gig workers, and the self-employed must submit their 2019 IRS 1040 Schedule C, Schedule F, or Schedule SE (prior to December 26, 2020) by fax or mail:

  • Fax: (512) 936-3250
  • Mail: Texas Workforce Commission, P.O. Box 149137, Austin, TX 78714-9137

What Can I Expect After I Submit my Application?

After submitting your application, TWC will first review your claim for regular unemployment insurance eligibility, which will result in a denial for regular unemployment benefits. At this point, TWC will automatically enroll you in PUA. 

Note: Do not be discouraged if the system initially denies your claim. This will not affect your PUA eligibility. 

(See Unemployment Guidance for Self-Employed, Contract and Gig Workers)

How Do I Request Payment?

Once you have submitted your application, you may begin requesting payments, and must continue to do so every two weeks. You can do this by logging into Unemployment Benefit Services and selecting “Request a Payment.

For help requesting payments, you can follow this guide: How to Request Benefit Payments.


Where Can I Find More Information?

  • Resource Bank to Texas Funding Guide for Freelancers, Self-Employed, 1099 Workers, Independent Contractors                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Freelancer’s Union Coronavirus Resources has information about government relief programs and how they apply to freelancers, health insurance updates, housing protection measures and more.                                                                                                                                                                                           
  • Gig Workers Rising Resource offers tips on how rideshare drivers and food delivery workers can protect themselves while working during the pandemic, plus information on applying for benefits and hardship funds.