Unemployment

We have helped more than 1500 Oregonians receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits successfully start their own business.

The Self Employment Assistance (SEA) program is for people who may be interested in starting their own business and are likely to run out of regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits before they return to work.

With SEA, when you make money from your business, you keep the proceeds AND get your full weekly benefit payment. Your work-search requirements for claiming benefits also are waived while you work full time on your self-employment activities.​

You must complete our market feasibility worksheet, write a written plan for your business, and perform self-employment activities for each week that you claim benefits. A market feasibility worksheet will help you understand the business market and figure out whether there is enough customer demand to make your business succeed.

For help putting together a business plan and market feasibility study, contact your local Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC) for help.​

Call the UI Special Programs Center at 503-947-1800 to see if you meet eligibility requirements. If you do, we will send you the SEA application.

We will set up a secure email account for you and send you instructions on how to access the email account and submit your materials. You will need to use the secure email account to send back:

  • Your completed application
  • Your feasibility worksheet

    If approved for the SEA program, you must:
  • Complete self-employment activities on a full-time basis for a minimum of 40 hours per week.
  • Complete a written business plan and a market feasibility worksheet. A market feasibility survey will help you understand the business market and figure out whether there is enough customer demand to make your business succeed.
You do NOT need to call us after submitting your materials. We will review your application and contact you to let you know if you have met the eligibility requirements. If you are eligible, we'll give you instructions on what to do next.​

You can receive business start-up counseling and advice from Oregon's Small Business Development Center Network (SBDC). Classes and books are provided at a reduced fee to SEA participants. To learn more, go to: oregonsbdc.org/​​

1. How does SEA help me start or expand my business?
  • When you make money from your business, you keep the proceeds AND get your full weekly benefit payment.
  • Your work-search requirements for claiming benefits are waived while working on your self-employment activities.
2. Do I have to have my business plan completed before I am accepted to SEA?
No, we only require your SEA application and feasibility study at the time you apply. Your business plan is due to the UI Special Programs Center within 45 days of being accepted into the program.

3. What kinds of businesses are prohibited?
The Oregon Employment Department Special Programs Center staff approves applications for businesses that are legal in Oregon,  appropriate for government sponsorship, and fit within their particular neighborhood. Some businesses that are legal in bordering states (Idaho, Nevada, for example) are NOT legal in Oregon.

4. What am I required to do after I am approved for the SEA program?
You must submit four items to the UI Special Programs Center within 45 days of being accepted into the program. The program approval email we send you will have details, forms, and links.

And, instead of completing the weekly certifications you are doing now, you will need to submit an SEA Weekly Claim Certification which we will provide to you.

5. I am receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits. Am I eligible for SEA?
No, people receiving PEUC benefits do NOT qualify for SEA.

6. How can I check to see what my benefits balance is?
Call the Special Programs Center at 503-947-1800 to find out what remaining balance you have available.
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UI Special Programs Center

Oregon Employment Department
PO Box 14518
Salem, Or 97309​

Hours of Operation

8:00 AM  - 5:00 PM

Contact

Phone: 503-947-1800
Toll Free: (800) 436-6191
TTY: 7-1-1
Email: SEA Program