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Unemployment Benefits: What to Know About the Coronavirus Relief Package


One of the major topics in the $2 trillion stimulus bill is the expansion of the amount and duration of unemployment benefits available to laid-off workers. With over 3.4 millions of Americans filing unemployment as of March 23rd, we want to answer some of the most common questions for those who are eligible to receive benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who is eligible for unemployment insurance?


The CARES Act extends unemployment insurance to workers who usually aren’t eligible for such benefits at the state level—so long as their unemployment is connected to the coronavirus outbreak - People who are diagnosed with coronavirus, have a household member with coronavirus or are unable to go to work because of quarantines, as would individuals who had to quit their jobs or are laid off because of the coronavirus.

Those who will now be eligible include part-time employees, freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and the self-employed.

Who isn’t eligible?

People who are receiving paid leave benefits or paid sick leave are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance.

Where and how can I apply?

You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits on your state’s website or over the phone. Because of the high volume of calls most states are recommending people apply for benefits online, some are instructing applicants to stagger filings by day based on their last names.

Please go to Unemployment Benefits Finder and select your state, It will show you General information, Claim UI online and Claim over the phone. 

How much will my unemployment check be?


Unemployment benefits vary by state. The new stimulus law increases unemployment assistance in every state by $600 a week for up to four months. Which means if your state, for example, has a maximum weekly benefit check of $500, then that would increase to $1,100 a week.

How long will it take to get my unemployment benefits after I file? 

The federal Department of Labor's website says that you can expect your first unemployment check two or three weeks after you apply, as long as you submit all of the required information, and no follow-up is necessary.

If there are any glitches along the way, such as a mistake on your claim form, the process could take quite a bit longer.

How long do these unemployment benefits last?

The federal government’s $600 weekly payout to unemployed workers would last for a period of up to four months through July 31. Additionally, the CARES Act would extend state-level unemployment insurance by an additional 13 weeks. Most state unemployment benefits typically last 26 weeks, and this bill would extend those benefits to 39 weeks. The extended benefits would last through Dec. 31, 2020.

Are Americans who started getting unemployment benefits before the relief package eligible for expanded unemployment benefits?


Yes, expanded benefits, including the additional $600 a week for up to four months, would kick in for anyone who has been unemployed.

What if the job I lost because of the coronavirus is a recently started one?

For those who lost jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and wouldn’t usually qualify for unemployment benefits owing to insufficient work history, the CARES Act effectively waives such work history requirements and allows those workers to receive unemployment benefits.