Assistance Opportunities for Self-Employed Americans

by Z

When the topic of unemployment is brought up, a lot of people are convinced that the only benefits out there are catered toward unemployed Americans. 

However, there’s a lot more to it than just the standard unemployment benefits, and many don’t even know that they could also make use of Unemployment Insurance, but even that isn’t all that’s available to you. 

In fact, you may be able to make better use of the Self-Employment Assistance Program, which could potentially offer better support for your current circumstances. 

We’ll go over what the Self-Employment Assistance Program actually is, how it works, and how you can apply to benefit from it.

What are the standard benefits?

Before diving headfirst into how self-employment assistance works, you may want to have a solid grasp on how the standard unemployment benefits operate. 

UI is the federally-funded system that offers assistance to those Americans that lost their jobs, providing them with coverage for some expenses that their wage would normally cover while they’re out seeking employment. 

Even though the program can differ based on what state you’re in, some basic points in it are the same across the country, as the program is supervised by the US Department of Labor. 

UI can provide up to 26 weeks of support for individuals that lost their jobs, and in most states, the program has the capability to provide up to 50% of the person’s previous average wages. 

However, to be eligible for the program, certain federal requirements have to be met, although each state has to set its own eligibility requirements, as well as the benefits you’ll receive upon qualifying.


You must remember that the eligibility for UI can vary immensely based on what state you’re applying in, albeit there are certain guidelines that you could follow to help you meet the requirements. 

Essentially, a person becomes eligible for UI if their loss of employment wasn’t their fault if they’re able to and wish to continue working, and finally, if they earned a minimum specific amount before the loss of employment. 

Even though the program was created and is managed by the US Department of Labor, each state determines the number of benefits they’ll offer to the program’s users. 

The general consensus is that if you do manage to qualify for the program, you’ll be receiving a certain dollar amount for a set number of weeks, after which you will no longer continue receiving benefits from UI.

Self-Employment Assistance

Despite there being several other assistance programs for Americans dealing with unemployment, this program focuses on providing workers with the opportunity of early re-employment. 

Essentially, the program encourages Americans to tackle their unemployment by starting their own small business, although it’s only available in a couple of states. 

The states that do administer this voluntary program will not pay the standard Unemployment Insurance benefits, but rather, they’ll offer to pay for a weekly SEA allowance. 

This allowance can then be used to help the unemployed demographic while they’re working on starting their small business and beginning their journey to being part of the workforce once again. 

One major downside to this program is that it’s only available in a handful of states, although it’s expected to spread if it shows promise, as it’s currently functioning in Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, and Oregon. 


Due to it being an unemployment assistance program that’s quite similar to the standard benefits program for the unemployed, eligibility for SEA is acquired through being eligible for standard benefits. 

This also means that if you do not qualify for the standard unemployment benefits, you won’t be able to benefit from the SEA program. 

The similarities don’t stop there though, as the allowance offered by SEA is practically the same thing as a person’s weekly UI benefits. 

However, the individuals in the SEA program don’t have to actively look for wage-paying employment, instead, they can focus on starting their own businesses to get themselves back on their feet. 

This usually includes activities like business meetings, counseling, technical assistance from professionals, and entrepreneurial training for those who are just starting out.

How to begin your journey?

If you do lose your current employment, it’s integral to contact your state’s Unemployment Insurance agency straight away, as they’ll offer assistance with your application process as well as provide you with any additional info you may need further down the line. 

While you’re at it, you may also want to ask whether the SEA program is available in your state, as it may be a better option for you if you’re entrepreneurial in nature. 

If you do end up needing some extra info on SEA, the best place to find it would be the Self-Employment Assistance Center, which was created by the DOL to help applicants understand more about the program and how it works. 

On the website, you’ll also find the SBA toolkit, which is loaded with information on how to start your own small business, from scratch. 

Inside, you’ll also find info on other resources that you may find helpful, those being women’s business centers, free online courses offered by the SBA as well as development centers for small businesses.

Bottom line

Becoming unemployed can be extremely stressful, and staring down a months-long search for work is incredibly taxing. 

However, you should know that you’re not in this alone, and there are thousands of others going through the same thing. 

Thankfully, the government offers assistance to recently unemployed Americans still searching for work, and this support can extend for up to 26 months, depending on the state you’re in. 

Despite this, you may still want to try your hand at running your own business, as there’s a program focused on encouraging unemployed Americans to become self-employed.

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