Millions of workers have lost their jobs in the course of the COVID-19 outbreak, so many so that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported a double-digit unemployment rate for the past three months. The good news is that if you're consider a salaried or hourly employee and have lost a job through no fault of your own, you're generally eligible to collect unemployment benefits. And because of the extreme nature of the pandemic, the rules have been changed to allow freelance and gig workers to collect unemployment benefits, too.
But here's another source of financial relief you may be entitled to if you work for yourself: a $1,000 grant you won't have to repay. It's a provision of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and it's money that could come in handy during a very difficult time.
How the grant works
Under the EIDL program, those who apply for a loan can also request an advance of up to $1,000 per employee for up to 10 employees, and those grants don't need to be repaid. If you're self-employed and therefore don't have employees, you can apply for a single $1,000 grant to use to supplement any lost income you may be grappling with during the ongoing recession.
Now technically, you do have to apply for a loan under the EIDL program to qualify for a grant. However, you don't have to accept that loan -- you can choose to accept the grant portion only and use that money to salvage your business, whether by investing in marketing, supplies, or other expenses.
What if you've already gotten a PPP loan?
You're allowed to apply for relief through the PPP and EIDL at the same time, but you'll need to use that money for different purposes. That may not pose a problem, though.
With a PPP loan, you're capped at two and a half times your monthly payroll costs. If you're self-employed and own an S-corp where you pay yourself a regular salary, and you continue doing so, you may wind up getting your entire PPP loan forgivable (PPP loans are eligible for forgiveness provided 60% of their proceeds go toward payroll costs). Meanwhile, you can apply for an EIDL and use that money for things like supplies, office space, or whatever other expenses you incur in the course of earning an income. You should document how you spend each loan you receive, in case the Small Business Administration winds up needing that information, and that includes any grant money you collect.
Self-employed folks finally aren't left out in the cold
Usually, self-employed individuals are left to fend for themselves when their income takes a hit. But because of the overwhelming nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are self-employed are thankfully included in the relief measures that have been made available to struggling Americans. If you're self-employed, it pays to see if you qualify for a $1,000 grant under the EIDL program. Usually, you'll get that money within three days of receipt of your application, though you may experience volume-related delays.