AURORA, Ill. – With the COVID-19 pandemic creating economic uncertainty, state Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora, is alerting residents of the expansion of unemployment benefits to cover self-employed sole proprietors and independent contractors whose jobs were directly impacted by COVID-19.

“As we adhere to the mandatory stay at home order and work towards slowing the spread of COVID-19, many jobs have been lost and workers have been required to cease their businesses, resulting in severe financial instability for families across the state,” said Hernandez. “The expansion of unemployment benefits to gig workers, small business owners and independent contractors will help ensure families make it through this unprecedented time and are able to afford even their most basic needs.”

The new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is designed to help individuals whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 but would not usually be eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, including self-employed sole proprietors, independent contractors, those with limited employment history and more. These individuals can receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance, with claims backdated to the individuals’ first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2 of this year. To apply or for more information, please visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security website at

“Many gig workers and those who are self-employed are struggling to make ends meet as this pandemic carries on,” said Hernandez. “Providing support to these workers is absolutely vital, and I highly encourage those who have lost their employment to apply for unemployment benefits.”

For more information, please contact Hernandez’s constituent services office at

Rep. Barbara HernandezRep. Barbara Hernandez

83rd District

Springfield Office:
233-E Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 558-1002
District Office:
540 W. Galena Blvd.
Aurora, IL 60506
(630) 270-1848