Americans who are self employed may not realize that there is a self employment assistance program available to help qualifying workers. This program was designed to offer workers that are dislocated an opportunity at early re-employment. Qualified unemployed workers can use this self employed assistance to make their own job opportunities through the creation of their own small business. Self-employment here means that you have your own business and are currently in the process of getting it off the ground.
Being your own boss sounds like fun until you realize how hard it is. Yes, you can show up whenever you want and you do not answer to anyone. But, you are responsible for every single aspect of the business and you are required to watch for any disasters that might unexpectedly show up. This means that you have to consider every nook and cranny of your business, because no one else will. All those days when you used to look to your boss for help are gone. You are the boss now. With self-employment comes great responsibility. But, you do not have to do it alone, contrary to popular belief. The federal government has created assistance programs to help self-employed individuals get their business off the ground.
What are Self-Employment Assistance Programs?
Self-employment assistance programs are relief programs that help entrepreneurs and small business owners move forward. If you have decided to create an online marketing agency or sell clothes by the curb, you are still an entrepreneur. (Don’t worry; they are not picky on the type of business you own.) These self-employment assistance programs try to ensure that your business does not fail and is steadily growing. You will need to meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for the program, but other than that, help is here.
According to the United States Department of Labor, “self-Employment Assistance offers dislocated workers the opportunity for early re-employment. The program is designed to encourage and enable unemployed workers to create their own jobs by starting their own small businesses.” The Self-Employment Assistance Program is funded by the federal government. But, the state and local government is responsible for managing and administering the program. It should be noted that the program is voluntary and not all states are required to participate. This means that there are states that are not actively participating in a self-employment assistance program; you should make sure that your state has a self-employment assistance program before you decide to apply. (Department of Labor: Training and Administration)
How Do These Self-Employment Assistance Programs Work?
You are probably wondering how the Self-Employment Assistance Program works. It is a fairly easy process without many complexities. The SEA Program provides weekly allowances for small business-owners and entrepreneurs until they manage to get their business off the ground. Instead of receiving unemployment benefits, the Self-Employment Assistance Program provides weekly allowances to small business-owners. The process of the SEA Program is similar to the unemployment benefits process. You need to file a claim every time you need the weekly allowance. However, you will need to be actively putting in 100% on your business and not looking for jobs while you are applying. To file a claim for your weekly allowance from the SEA Program, you should contact your state’s unemployment insurance program.
The application process typically takes about three weeks to finalize. By three weeks, you will know if you are eligible for the Program and if you will receive your weekly allowance. For potential candidates, you might receive an eligibility letter that allows you to know whether you are qualified. You should keep in mind that there are eligibility requirements that you have to meet, which are similar to the unemployment benefits eligibility.
Why Would You Need Self Employment Assistance and What Can You Get Out of Them?
Self-Employment Assistance Programs are very beneficial for entrepreneurs and small business-owners. The SEA Program offers qualified individuals with a weekly allowance that allows them to hit the ground running. Since starting a business is hard and getting it off the ground is harder, you should really consider a Self-Employment Assistance Program. It might help you to move forward with your business and keep your head above water. Also, the SEA Program will require you to enroll in a training program that is relevant to the business world. This means that you can stay updated on the ever-changing business industry and still focus on your business.
With the Self-Employment Assistance Program, you will be able to concentrate on growing your business without having to look for a job. Most entrepreneurs and small business-owners face that dilemma more often than not. They are unable to give their all to their business, especially in the starting phase. The Self-Employment Assistance Program eliminates any cause for distractions, on your part. (Department of Labor in New York State)
Common Issues You Might Find with the Self Employment Assistance Program
However, everything has to have benefits and drawbacks. The drawbacks to a self-employment assistance program are that you will be solely reliant on the weekly allowances. As part of the eligibility requirements, you will not be able to actively look for work. This means that you will have to make due with your weekly allowance and nothing more. Also, the assistance program targets only small business-owners and entrepreneurs. Once you decide that you want to take a different route in your career, you will not be qualified to receive an SEA allowance.
Additionally, self-employment can take a heavy toll, when it comes to your mental health. You might be stressed, worked to the bone, and you probably haven’t slept in weeks. With the Self-Employment Assistance Program, they do not provide services to help you in that department. So, you will need to keep yourself in check at all times on this matter. As mentioned before, you are the boss now. Make sure to give yourself a break every once in a while; it will be good for you. What is good for you, will be good for your business too!
Can Self Employed Claim Benefits?
Recipients of these benefits available to self employed workers will receive a Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA), as opposed to traditional unemployment benefits. The goal of an SEA Program is to provide support for workers who are in the process of becoming self employed. If you are eligible, you could receive weekly allowances while working on starting your business.
This program is not mandated to be in every state. This voluntary program is only located in a handful of states like Delaware, New York, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Mississippi. If you are interested in seeing what assistance options are available near you, you can look for resources online. The United States Department of Labor has resources on their website, but you can also find information at your local State Workforce Agency. They will be able to provide you information and potentially help you with the application process if this program is available. However, you will not be able to receive unemployment benefits AND the weekly Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA). (You cannot have the best of both worlds; this is not Hannah Montana.) You will only be allowed to receive one type of benefit, especially since there are different eligibility requirements for each Program.
Eligibility Requirements for The Self-Employment Assistance Programs
Every area and program has their own requirements. There are definitely some general guidelines that can help give you an idea on your eligibility status. First, an individual must be eligible to receive regular unemployment benefits under State law. However, eligibility is not off the table, if an individual participates in self-employment activities. This includes training programs such as: business counseling, entrepreneurial assistance, technical training, etc. Overall, you may find that this is a program worth looking into, if you want to start your own business. If you are not interested, then you should consider applying for unemployment benefits.
In order to be eligible, you need to enroll in a training program that the Employment Security Department approves of. Also, you should be identified as an individual who ran out of benefits or that you are eligible for a Commissioner-Approved Training (CAT).
According to the Employment Security Department of Washington State, the Approved Training Programs include:
- “Entrepreneurial training
- Business counseling
- Technical assistance
- Requirements to engage in activities relating to setting up a business and becoming self-employed.” (Employment Security Department in Washington State)
These training programs will allow you to qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program. Also, these courses could really help you understand the business world better and take control of the course of your business.
How to Apply for a Self-Employment Assistance Program?
In order to apply for a Self-Employment Assistance Program, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements to qualify. Once you qualify, you should contact your state’s unemployment insurance agency to apply for your weekly allowance. Keep in mind that the process is similar to unemployment benefits. Also, you will need to apply every week; it is not just a one-time application. If you find yourself no longer needing the weekly allowance or no longer qualify, then you will stop receiving the weekly allowances.
The application is pretty standard, with all of the regular questions any form would ask. You should mention what type of business you own and whether or not you already have a business. The application will also require information on the occupation that you have the most experience in and how many years you worked in that occupation. You should also mention your last three jobs, when you started, and when you ended your contract. Additionally, the application requires that you state any injuries or illnesses that may have prevented you from returning to your main occupation. A standard version of the Self-Employment Assistance Program application can be found here. (Employment Security Department in Washington State)
Overall, the Self-Employment Assistance Program allows small business-owners and entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground. This means that if you are struggling with your business, you should consider applying for this Program. The federal government funds the Self-Employment Assistance Program. But, the state and local government are responsible for managing and administering the program. It’s important to note that the Program is not obligatory for all states and is a voluntary program. At the moment, only a handful of states provide the Self-Employment Assistance Program. These states include: Delaware, New York, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Mississippi.
In terms of applying to the SEA Program, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements to qualify. The application process is similar to the unemployment benefits process. You will also need to be eligible for the unemployment benefits for you to qualify for the Self-Employment Assistance Program. Also, you will need to enroll for a training program that is approved by the Employment Security Department.
Department of Labor in New York State. Special Programs Frequently Asked Questions. 2021. 28 08 2021 <https://dol.ny.gov/special-programs-frequently-asked-questions>.
Department of Labor: Training and Administration. Self-Employment Assistance. 2021. 28 08 2021 <https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/self.asp>.
Employment Security Department in Washington State. “Application for Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP).” 2021. Employment Security Department. 28 08 2021 <https://esdorchardstorage.blob.core.windows.net/esdwa/Default/ESDWAGOV/jobs-and-training/ESD-self-employment-assistance-program-application.pdf>.
—. Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP). 2021. 28 08 2021 <https://esd.wa.gov/jobs-and-training/self-employment-assistance-program>.