We all know these are difficult times. In the last month, unemployment claims have reached an all-time high and day-by-day, these numbers are only rising. With more than 22 million Americans out of work, you are not alone.
We know you are worried about covering your bills and putting food on the table. We are too! If you received the Coronavirus “stimulus” money, that may help, but if you are out of work, filing for unemployment should be your next step.
The guidelines for unemployment benefits eligibility have changed because of the CARES Act, otherwise known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) which makes benefits available to more of us in need of help. Read on for more information.
Yes. The good news: if you drive for Uber or Lyft, Doordash, or another gig job, you are now eligible.
In the past, in order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you needed to lose your job or a significant amount of your income due to “no fault of your own”--usually meaning you were laid off due to your company restructuring or eliminating your position.
Under new federal guidelines, states are now allowed to provide unemployment to:
Another good thing: states are being incentivized to waive the typical one-week waiting period for benefits.
I am a plumber or electrician or other small business owner; do I qualify for unemployment? Most likely, yes. The CARES Act now covers those who are self-employed, including small business owners and those with LLCs or S-corporations, which means you can now apply for unemployment benefits.
How much money will I get from unemployment?
If you're wondering how much you will get, a basic rule of thumb is that unemployment will provide you with approximately half of the weekly income that you lost. Fortunately, the new Coronavirus provisions mean unemployment benefits have been increased and through July 31, individuals will receive an extra $600 each week in addition to their base payment, which increases the overall benefits amount. If you don’t see the extra $600 yet, don’t worry: the additional money will be retroactive to March 29.
How long will I get my unemployment benefits?
If you qualify for unemployment, how long will you get it for? This varies state-by-state, but usually unemployment benefits last anywhere from 13 weeks to 30 weeks.
Good news: the CARES Act may now extend your benefits for up to 13 weeks. Check here to see your state’s guidelines.
Who doesn’t qualify?
Even though there are some situations where more people are eligible for unemployment benefits, there are still some individuals that won't qualify.
If you are able to work from home or you're receiving a paid leave from your employer you are not eligible. Also if you've been terminated from your job because of an “at-fault” situation you are also not eligible.
What if I am trying to file for unemployment, but I can’t get through?
The federal government has sent $1 billion to states to improve their unemployment systems, which is currently being used to hire more workers and update technology in order to handle the increased benefit requests.
What if I qualify, but my application is denied?
Once you submit a claim for unemployment benefits, your state will review your application to determine your eligibility, and hopefully--will start issuing your payments. In some cases though, claims may be denied.
If you find yourself in that situation, know that you can appeal! Here are some practical tips on steps that you can take in the event that happens.
A reminder: while the CARES Act is a federal initiative, each state’s implementation of the expanded unemployment benefits (and timeline) will vary. Click here to link to your state’s unemployment site for specific information that will affect your own situation.