"1 in 4 U.S. workers has applied for jobless aid in the last 10 weeks.”
- Irina Ivanova, CBS News
The money to pay Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits comes from the federal and state government, but it's important to know that that pool of money is funded by an unemployment tax that the government collected from employers. That means if you lost your job, your unemployment benefit is paid for by your previous employer.
Unemployment Insurance (UI) is considered a federal-state program, so while there are some federal guidelines that every state must follow, the unemployment program is administered by the state.
Your state will make decisions on eligibility, appeals, and it will issue unemployment benefit payments:
Because of COVID-19, congress passed a law that expanded unemployment benefits in several key ways. This law, known as the CARES Act, was passed in March 2020. Here are the three main changes to unemployment that you should be aware of:
PUA allows unemployment benefits to be paid to workers who traditionally didn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, like independent contractors, part-time, self-employed and freelance workers. So Lyft and Uber drivers, hairdressers, and electricians, and many more can now file for unemployment - provided their loss of income was due to COVID-19. For more details plus a quick video on PUA, check this article.
PUA is in effect (and available retroactively) from January 27 - December 31, 2020.
Gives eligible UI recipients an extra $600 per week on top of your current benefits. For details on FPUC and how to apply, take a look at this article: Collect additional unemployment benefits with FPUC. You may receive FPUC if you are currently receiving
FPUC is in effect from either your unemployment eligibility date or the date that the state signed the agreement (later of the two) and lasts through July 31, 2020.
PEUC enables unemployment benefits to be granted for an extra 13 weeks after the normal state maximums are reached. Most states will pay for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.
Add 13 weeks to your state's current maximum - see chart below:
|State||Current limit||PEUC extension||New Limit|
|Alabama||14 weeks||13 weeks||27 weeks|
|Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina||20 weeks||13 weeks||33 weeks|
|Florida, North Carolina||12 weeks***||13 weeks||25 weeks|
|Georgia||26 weeks***||13 weeks||39 weeks|
|Kansas||26 weeks**||13 weeks||39 weeks|
|Massachusetts||26 weeks*||13 weeks||39 weeks|
|Michigan||26 weeks*||13 weeks||39 weeks|
|Montana||28 weeks||13 weeks||41 weeks|
|All other states||26 weeks||13 weeks||39 weeks|
*Temporary change in maximum due to COVID-19
**Temporary change through April 2021
***Subject to change based on state unemployment levels