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The Self Employment Assistance Program

Program Overview

SEAP is  an option for unemployment insurance claimants who have been identified as likely to run out of unemployment benefits before they return to work (exhaust their claim).  Claimants are identified as being likely to exhaust using a computerized mathematical formula called worker profiling (wprs).  Enrolled SEAP claimants  may attend self-employment assistance counseling/training and engage in self-employment activities on a fulltime basis.  Participants must complete both a written business plan and a market feasibility study. The program operates as a collaborative effort between the Oregon Employment Department, and the Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC).

The program is funded out of the annual Unemployment and Wagner-Peyser grants. There are no separate budgets for the program in either the Employment Department or the Small Business Development Center Network.
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Who Is Eligible?

To qualify for the SEA program, you must:
  • Be eligible for and receiving Oregon unemployment benefits;
  • If you are in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) you may be eligible to participate in the Self Employment Assistance Program. You do not need a worker profiling score to participate.  Please contact the Training Programs Unit at 1-800-436-6191 for more information.
  • Be unlikely to return to your previous employment and not a member in good standing with a closed shop union,
  • Have been identified, by the Department´s computerized mathematical formula, as likely to exhaust unemployment benefits,
  • Have a viable business idea,
  • Be willing to work full time in developing the business, and
  • Have or be able to obtain the financial backing needed to start and sustain the business until it becomes self-supporting.
  • If the business requires an occupational license (state license), the applicant must already hold that license at the time of application for SEA.
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All enrolled SEA workers must attend self-employment assistance training (if directed to do so), complete a market feasibility study, and a written business plan and be engaged in self-employment activities on a full time basis for each week claimed.

SEA benefits include:
  • Weekly unemployment benefits while engaging in self-employment activities
  • Waiver of the actively seeking work requirement while participating in the program
  • Counseling and technical assistance on developing a market feasibility study and a business plan
  • Money earned from the business is not deducted from your unemployment check
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How Can SEAP Help Me Start/Expand A Business?

You do not have to look for covered employment; no more work search while you are participating in the program.

You can receive business start-up counseling and advice from Oregon’s Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) free of charge. Classes and books are at cost to the participant, no training funds are available at this time.

If you make money from your private enterprise you keep the proceeds and you still get your full unemployment benefits.

People come to the program in all states of readiness to ‘do business’ so we don’t require applicants to wait for a class to start etc. When you are accepted in to the program is when you start.
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How Do I Apply?

The following is a brief description of the application process. There is a link to the more detailed process. Remember, not every Oregon unemployment claimant is eligible for the program.

1. Call your local Worksource Oregon center (see link) and ask to speak to the Claimant Reemployment Specialist to see if you meet minimum eligibility. OR call 1-800-436-6191

2. Get an application for Self Employment Assistance from Worksource Oregon if you meet the minimum eligibility. Make sure your worker profile score is written on the application.

3. Fax your signed completed application to the Training Program Unit of Oregon Employment Dept. The Training Program Unit will contact you to confirm that you have met all eligibility requirements and give you further instructions.
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. I don’t live in Oregon, can I be in SEAP?
If you have an Oregon Unemployment claim and you live close enough to access Oregon WIA Services and/or Small Business Development Network facilities, then you can apply.(e.g. Longview, WA.  yes  Seattle, WA.  no OR Fruitland, ID.   yes  Boise, ID.  no)
2. My claim is against another state. Can I participate in SEA?
Not unless your liable state has a functioning SEA program, and you must check to see if they will allow you to participate if you are now living in another state.

3. I ran out of unemployment, can I apply for extended benefits?
If Oregon is in a period of extended benefits, you can apply for a Federal extension, but you will have to drop Self Employment and return to looking for work.

4. I am just about to receive my Securities’s license; can I be in SEAP if I don’t have my state license yet?
You can request to be considered for an exception to the rule regarding state licensure if you are close to having the license in hand (e.g. 2 weeks). by calling (503) 947-1670 and ask for the SEAP Coordinator. Exceptions are handled on a case-by-case basis.

5. My worker profile score isn’t high enough to get in the program, is there anything I can do to raise it?
Sometimes a score can be changed by modifying the occupational code that you were profiled under. Discuss the situation with the Claimant Reemployment Specialist at your local Worksource Oregon office. Be aware that sometimes being profiled under a more accurate code can make the score go down, instead of up.

6. What sorts of businesses are prohibited?
No specific ‘sorts’ of businesses are prohibited by the rule, but Small Business Development Counselors are advised to approve only those applications for businesses that are legal in Oregon, and that are appropriate for government sponsorship, as well as those compatible with the particular neighborhood. Some businesses that are legal in bordering states (e.g., Nevada) are not legal in Oregon.

7. If I am denied for SEAP is there an appeal process?
A denial letter from the Unemployment Section will specify the appeal process to use.
8. How much can I make at my business and still keep my unemployment when I am on SEAP?
There is no limit on how much money you can earn from your own private enterprise while you participate in SEAP. You must report the earnings, but it is not deducted from your unemployment benefits. If you work for another employer, those earning will be deducted however.
9. If I am going to be a general contractor, do I have to have my state license before applying for SEAP?
You must have a State of Oregon Contractor’s License in hand before you can be approved for SEAP if it is a prerequisite of conducting the kind of business that you will operate. See http://www.licenseinfo.oregon.gov for a complete list of  Oregon occupations requiring licensure.
Local business licenses or franchise certifications are not covered under this rule.
10. Will I get extra weeks of benefits on SEAP?
No. Your UI benefit remaining balance is all that you will receive (e.g., if you start SEAP in your fourth week on unemployment, and you began with 26 weeks maximum benefits, then you will have 22 weeks of benefits remaining).

11. Do I have to have my business plan completed before I am accepted to SEAP?
Your business plan is normally due to the Training Programs Unit within 30 days of acceptance to SEAP.  Only your SEAP application  is needed to begin the approval process.
12. What am I required to do after I am approved for the program?
The Training Program Unit of Employment Dept. will provide you with weekly claim certification cards that you must mail to Salem on a weekly basis.

Be sure to check your remaining balance of unemployment benefits periodically so you will know how many weeks you have left in SEAP
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