NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – April 26, self-employed New Mexicans can apply for unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which is a part of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill. Previously, self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig workers and others were not eligible for unemployment benefits. Workers who became unemployed, had hours reduced, or had an inability to work as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic may qualify for this unemployment assistance.

Who May Qualify

People who may qualify for PUA include individuals not eligible for regular unemployment benefits:

  • the self-employed;
  • independent contractors;
  • gig economy workers;
  • church employees;
  • individuals who were previously found monetarily ineligible;
  • nonprofit and governmental workers; and
  • workers who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation benefits

Filing a Claim

Self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are encouraged to begin filing claims online at

If a self-employed person has already filed an unemployment insurance claim, they do not need to file a new one.

When applying for PUA, individuals will need to provide their income information for their most recently completed and filed tax year (either 2018 or 2019) in order for NMDWS to determine their PUA weekly benefit amount.

Applying for PUA is a two-step process that workers can begin immediately.

  1. First, individuals need to file a regular Unemployment Insurance claim to determine their income is covered by regular state insurance program,
    • if eligible, then will be cleared for PUA benefits.
  2. Second, once a claimant is deemed ineligible for regular benefits, they will be provided access to apply for PUA benefits starting April 26.

Applicants will be asked to submit additional information required for PUA eligibility like proof of earnings and proof of employment. Acceptable forms of proof of earnings include copies of income tax return forms such as:

  • Form 1040
  • Form 1040A
  • Form 1040EZ
  • Form 1040NR
  • Form 1040NR-EZ
  • Form 1040 Schedule C, E, F and SE
  • Form K-1


PUA is payable for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by COVID-19 related reasons beginning on or after January 27, 2020. PUA is not payable for any week of unemployment ending after December 31, 2020. Claimants must certify weekly, and once these claims are processed, all eligible weeks will be paid retroactively.

  • None of the benefits, nor unemployment benefits of any kind, are available to employees who quit without good work-related cause, refuse to return to work, or refuse to receive full-time pay.
  • Refusing to return to work could result in a disqualification for benefit eligibility.
  • Attempts to collect unemployment benefits after quitting a job without good work-related cause is considered to be fraud.
  • The CARES Act specifically provides for serious consequences for fraudulent cases including fines, confinement, and an inability to receive future unemployment benefits until all fraudulent claims and fines have been repaid.
  • Employers are encouraged to utilize the New Hire system to report those employees who fail to return to work.

For more information or to file a claim, visit New Mexico Workforce Solution