State moving closer to unemployment benefits for self-employed

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Labor announced Thursday it is working with a vendor to create a system that will allow self-employed individuals and independent contractors to apply for expanded unemployment benefits. It is expected to be ready in three to six weeks.

The state’s system currently does not allow those workers to seek unemployment, but the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes them as eligible for benefits.

The department’s system will enable it to check applicants’ eligibility and verify earnings reported to the Internal Revenue Service. The agency said it will offer more information on its website next week.

Once the system is ready, workers hoping to apply will need their driver’s license or state-issued identification, last year’s income tax statement or quarterly earnings statement, their state business license number, their bank account and their routing number.

“The hardship that the coronavirus pandemic has placed on Delaware workers is unprecedented. These workers will receive the much-needed assistance provided to them under the CARES Act,” Labor Secretary Cerron Cade said in a statement. “We are working around the clock to make that happen — hopefully, ahead of schedule.”

So far, the department said, it has processed and paid 70 percent of the initial claims for benefits submitted since March 1 and is currently paying out more than $30 million in benefits each week. The agency has received more than 60,000 claims in four weeks, nearly twice what it saw throughout all of 2019.

To view the most updated frequently asked questions regarding unemployment insurance and to be notified when the application for benefits is available for self-employed individuals and independent contractors in Delaware, text uifacts to 555888.

For more information, visit dol.delaware.gov or ui.delawareworks.com or call the agency at 761-8446. Callers should be aware hold time is longer than usual and are urged to email uiclaims@delaware.gov for a quicker response. An email should include the sender’s full name, including middle initial, as well as contact information and claim number.

To process an initial claim for unemployment benefits, visit ui.delawareworks.com.