Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Real estate was deemed an essential service in California as of early April, but it hasn’t been ‘business as usual’ for many of the state’s 200,000 registered realtors.

It wasn’t until April 28th that independent contractors and self-employed individuals could even apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through the California Employment Development Department’s (EDD) online platform, although payments are retroactive to when income was lost due to COVID-19.

Those who applied in the first few weeks after the site went live began receiving the minimum benefit of $167 per week in addition to the $600 per week provided by the federal government under the CARES Act. Known as Phase 1, it was intended to streamline payments to unemployed Californians as quickly as possible. Some began receiving benefits in as little as 48 hours.

Phase 2 kicked off on May 20th, allowing self-employed, freelance and gig economy workers to collect up to an additional $283 per week. That equates to a maximum of $450 plus the $600 boost for a grand total of $1,050 per week. 

To qualify for an increase, claimants must have earned more than $17,368 last year. The maximum amount is reserved for individuals who took home over $46,696 in 2019. The EDD will automatically increase the weekly payments of those who qualify (they will receive a letter in the mail notifying them of the change) and they will also be paid retroactively for the weeks in which they collected the minimum amount.

Of course, there is a 39-week cap on state unemployment benefits and the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit is set to expire on July 25th for Californians.

Phase 3 will stretch from July 26th to December 26th, 2020. Claimants will receive a minimum of $167 per week for up to 39 weeks. Payment increases are still applicable so long as the aforementioned net self-employment income requirements are met.

For more information about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, visit

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