COVID-19 and Unemployment for Alabama REALTORS®

REALTORS®, even those who work as independent contractors, may qualify for unemployment, if they meet certain criteria. For more information on unemployment benefits, check out our FAQs on the CARES Act here. NAR has some great resources here. To go directly to ADOL’s unemployment benefits page, click here. An illustrative grid of eligibility prepared by ADOL may be found here.

Here are a few things to keep in mind and FAQs:

  • Weekly Claims
    Unemployment benefits must be claimed weekly, which can be done online at ADOL’s website.
  • Independent Contractor - Is my broker my employer?
    If you are an independent contractor, you are your employer. Your broker is not your employer for  purposes of filing an unemployment claim.
  • Problem Reported
    REALTORS®, as independent contractors, have reported receiving inaccurate, $0 “monetary determinations” after filing. But this letter is automatic under the old system where independent contractors were not eligible for unemployment. ADOL has stated that those eligible will receive their benefits once the system update is complete. If this or other issues occur, please call the number provided by ADOL and continue filing weekly claims.
  • Revised Application
    With the new updates coming online, REALTORS® who have already applied for unemployment should receive a new application that is geared toward independent contractors and sole proprietors. Even if you have not received any benefits or received a $0 “monetary determination,” complete the new application to determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment.
  • Partial Unemployment
    Are you eligible for unemployment if you are partially unemployed or had multiple jobs and lost one?
    The answer is maybe, depending on how much you are now making. If you make more than $275 a week total, then you do not currently qualify for unemployment benefits in Alabama. If you make less than $275 a week, then you qualify for benefits under the CARES Act.
  • Double dipping: Unemployment and Loans
    I received money under one of the loan programs (PPP or EIDL program). Can I receive unemployment benefits?

    Yes, but the money cannot go to pay the same thing. Since unemployment benefits replace lost income, the loan could not go toward income/paychecks but toward utilities or other expenses. However, if you obtained a loan from the PPP and receive unemployment, the loan may no longer be forgivable, since you cannot use the PPP money to pay your salary. Discuss this with your accountant to fully understand the impact.
  • File Unemployment Application Again Online
    If you emailed or mailed your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application and have not heard from ADOL, consider filing an application again online. Due to the large number of email/paper applications, the system is backlogged. While ADOL is working diligently to process the paper/email applications, it could take weeks to work through such a large number. Filing online will speed up the process considerably. Don’t worry, you will have to provide your claim number from the original application so this will not be considered a second claim. Go here to file online. This counts for first time filers too.
  • Must Meet Specific Criteria
    To receive unemployment benefits, the CARES Act requires recipients to fall within one or more specific categories dealing with COVID-19. If you do not fall within one of these categories, you do not qualify for unemployment benefits. The categories are:
    • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
    • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
    • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
    • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
    • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
    • The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
    • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Still Having Issues
    If you have questions or issues related to an unemployment claim and cannot reach the Alabama Department of Labor, reach out to the Alabama REALTORS® legal hotline at (334) 262-3808.