Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.
For the first time nationally, independent contractors and gig workers can receive unemployment benefits â through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Millions of Americans have relied on this program since it was created by the first stimulus package in March 2020.
Depending on your state, PUA effectively expired on Dec. 26 or 27. At the 11th hour, lawmakers rallied to pass a second stimulus package, extending the program for 11 weeks. However, some states had to pause making PUA payments as they implemented the new rules.
The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.
This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
This $300 boost is known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA
Initially, the CARES Act authorized PUA payments for a maximum of 39 weeks. The second stimulus package extended PUA to 50 weeks total â or 11 extra weeks.
PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who havenât exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.
One new and notable limitation: PUA used to be available retroactively as far back as January 2020. The new stimulus law tightens the window for retroactive PUA payments to Dec. 1, 2020, through March 14, 2021.
All PUA recipients should be expecting to file more paperwork, too. To curb fraud, the second stimulus deal forces current and new PUA recipients to submit documents related to employment or self-employment, according to the DOL.
The exact documents needed will be determined by your state agency, which is required to notify you. The deadline to file those documents is March 27, 2021. Defer to your stateâs deadline if different.
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How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, State by State
Our interactive map includes PUA filing instructions for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Based on The Penny Hoarderâs analysis, 35 states and D.C. process PUA applicants using the same application for general unemployment. Only 15 states have separate PUA applications.
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Hereâs how we broke it down on the map.
To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.
In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.
For simplicity â and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim â both methods are categorized as âgeneral unemployment (UI)â on the map, in darkÂ blue.
To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.
States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.
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Documents Needed to File for PUA
If youâre ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, youâll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.
Your state may require a few additional documents, but hereâs an overview:
- State-issued ID card.
- Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number.
- Mailing and residential address (if different).
- Bank account information for direct deposit, otherwise your benefits will arrive via a prepaid debit card or check.
- Tax return: Form 1040, Schedule C, F and/or SE.
- As many income statements as possible: bank receipts with deposit information, 1099 forms, W-2s, paycheck stubs, income summaries and business ledgers.
Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.
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Depending on which gig app you use and how much you earned, you may not have received any 1099 income forms in the mail. In that case, log on to the app and download your income statements.
Due to new rules outlined in the second stimulus package, state labor departments are once again scrambling. Hiccups should be expected while applying for, asking about or submitting documents related to PUA. Many gig workers and independent contractors warn of website crashes, unavailable customer service, confusing questionnaires and more.
Perseverance is key.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his âlatest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
Maybe you want to lose those stubborn 10 pounds, score a big promotion or run your first marathon. Whatever your priority, it all starts with setting a goal.
Financial priorities are no different. Whether you want to save for your child’s college education or get yourself out of debt, budgeting to help reach your financial goals allows you to determine what’s most important to you, make a plan to attain those goals and hold yourself accountable for success.
Still, when it comes to managing your money, knowing how to set financial goals and sticking to them can feel like opposite sides of the same coin. You might even find yourself asking, “How do I create a simple budget to reach my financial goals?” If you follow these three steps, you could be crossing the finish line in record time:
1. Pick a day to get started
Sometimes the hardest part of tackling a new project is simply getting started, especially if your to-do list feels like it’s never ending. There’s always tomorrow, or the day after that… right? To create a simple budget to help you reach your financial goals, pick a day and time to get started. Consider picking a time when you do your best thinking, are most focused and least likely to get interrupted. Maybe it’s Sunday morning over breakfast and coffee before kicking off a day of chores or on a weeknight after the kids go to bed.
Once you’ve landed on the best time to sit down and create a simple budget, add it to the calendar and schedule reminders on your computer or phone to hold yourself accountable.
2. Create a simple budget, however complex your finances
Chances are your finances are pretty complicated, with lots of moving parts. Things seem to be moving along nicely with your regular expenses like rent, groceries, transportation and entertainment… and then your carburetor goes kaput in your car and you must replace it right away. Or that toothache has become unbearable and requires a root canalâand you’ll have to cover some of the expense out of pocket. Just when you’re finally making a dent in paying down your debt and getting your finances on track, life throws you some curveballs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a simple budget.
One of the easiest ways to create a simple budget and stay on track is to follow the 50-20-30 rule:
- 50 percent of your income should address your needs, such as housing, utilities, healthcare and transportation;
- 20 percent should be put toward your financial goals, like building your savings and paying off debt;
- 30 percent should cover your wants or discretionary expenses, like shopping, entertainment and dining out.
Managing your finances with the 50-20-30 is a good first step when you’re first learning how to create a budget, but trying to deal with multiple financial goals within that 20 percent bucket can be overwhelming. When it comes to budgeting to help reach your financial goals, certified financial planner Jim White suggests taking your financial goals one step at a time.
“Make a simple plan to tackle debtâor maybe just one debtâthen when that goal is accomplished, work on a simple plan for the next debt,” White suggests. “A bunch of small victories goes a long way to changing your financial discipline and gives you a boost to keep moving forward,” White adds.
Similar to how you picked a day to begin the budgeting process, make a habit out of managing your finances by picking one day of the week and checking in with yourself at a scheduled time. After about two months, budgeting to help reach your financial goals can become habit forming. “When you focus on your goals on the same day every week, you are creating a habit, and a pattern, to follow,” says Karen Ford, financial coach and motivational speaker.
Budgeting to help reach your financial goals becomes even more effective when you’re reviewing your priorities every seven days and making adjustments to your spending and saving as needed.
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“Make a simple plan to tackle debtâor maybe just one debtâthen when that goal is accomplished, work on a simple plan for the next debt. A bunch of small victories goes a long way to changing your financial discipline and gives you a boost to keep moving forward.”
3. Automate your financial plan
Now that you know how to set financial goalsâwhether it’s paying down debt, saving up for a car or putting money away for retirementâwhat’s next? Time to get moving! One way to do that is to automate your finances. By setting up automatic bill pay and account transfers, it will be easier to stick to your plan for paying monthly expenses and contributing to savings.
When it comes to paying your bills and learning how to set financial goals, consider automating the bills that you pay regularly, especially those that fall within the 50 percent budget category that covers your living essentials. To gain momentum with your savings progress, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account for the amount you wish to save each month. If your financial goal is retirement, you could even set up automatic transfers to an individual retirement account (IRA) so you’re consistently making progress. You could also arrange to have a portion of your paycheck automatically go into savingsâbefore you even have time to miss it.
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By making automatic contributions to your savings accounts, you are “subscribing to the idea of paying yourself first,” says Riley Adams, CPA and blogger for Young and the Invested, a professional’s guide to financial independence. “By doing this, it removes the temptation to spend and takes any lack of discipline out of the picture,” Adams says.
Keep in mind that any time you automate your finances as part of creating a simple budget, you should monitor your accounts regularly. Check in to make sure your automated settings are up to date, that you always have the funds available in your accounts to cover your expenses and transfers and that your savings are growing according to your plan.
How to set financial goals in 3 steps
Once you find time to focus on your finances, create a simple budget and automate your payments and transfers, budgeting to help reach your financial goals is one habit that is sure to stick. By following these three rules and keeping yourself on track, you’ll be ready to build a solid foundation for your financial future.
The post How to Set Financial Goalsâand Crush Them appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.