Can I Still Get Unemployment If I'm a Consultant?

Consultants can be either independent contractors (self-employed) or employees. If you are an employee of a consulting firm that pays unemployment taxes, you are eligible for unemployment benefits. If you are an independent contractor, you are not eligible for benefits. After you file your initial claim and are approved, benefits will be paid weekly. The amount of money you receive will depend your specific situation. There are several factors that can disqualify you from receiving benefits.


Qualifying For Unemployment

If you are a consultant who worked for a consulting firm, you are eligible for benefits. Your employer withheld taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and paid unemployment taxes on your wages. However, many consultants are self-employed and do not pay unemployment taxes. In this case, they are not eligible for benefits. If you are unsure about your status, there's an easy way to tell. If the company you are working for withholds taxes from your check, it is classifying you as an employee. If you receive all your pay and are responsible for paying taxes on your own, you are an independent contractor and are considered self-employed.


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Weekly Benefit Amounts

The weekly benefit amounts vary according to the state in which you live. Employers pay a percentage of your wages to the state. So, the benefits are based upon how much you made before you became unemployed. Each state will have maximum and minimum amounts. The duration of your benefits also depends upon the state in which you live.



There is typically a short waiting period from the date you file your first claim until your state's department of labor will begin to process your request. Once the process starts, it usually takes a few weeks to receive payment. Every week, you have to file a new claim. This is called certifying for unemployment. If you choose to receive payment electronically (have the funds wired to your bank account), it usually takes two or three days after you have certified.


Unemployment Disqualifications

Several things can disqualify you from receiving unemployment. If you were let go for misconduct, if you quit or if you were involved in a labor dispute, you will not be eligible. Once you begin receiving benefits, if you turn down work or if you go back to work you will be disqualified. The department of labor will require you to pay back unemployment compensation wrongfully received. It has the authority to verify the information you supply when you file a claim.