Unemployment simplified

Last updated: May 28, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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In the weeks since the #Coronavirus hit the U.S. #unemployment has skyrocketed and for many that means facing unemployment for the first time.

"1 in 4 U.S. workers has applied for jobless aid in the last 10 weeks.”
- Irina Ivanova, CBS News

How unemployment works

Where does unemployment money come from?

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.

Who runs the unemployment program?

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:

  • Eligibility for unemployment can vary state-by-state
  • Weekly payment amounts, minimums and maximums, are set by your home state and will vary
  • Regardless of your state, you will *not *qualify for unemployment if you
    • Were fired for cause
    • Have no payroll records (were paid under the table)
    • Are receiving pay for time off

Expanded unemployment benefits from Coronavirus Aid

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:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

What is it?

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.

How long will it last?

PUA is in effect (and available retroactively) from January 27 - December 31, 2020.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)

What is it?

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

  • Normal Unemployment benefits
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
  • Extended benefits
  • Short-Time Compensation
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance
  • Payment under the Self-Employment Assistance program

How long will it last?

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.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

What is it?

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.

How long will it last?

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

Notes
*Temporary change in maximum due to COVID-19
**Temporary change through April 2021
***Subject to change based on state unemployment levels


For more information, visit the Jobcase Unemployment Resource Center and follow the #unemployment topic to see what the community is saying.

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sapana thapa
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Nanny at Child Care

Hi I don’t understand I took unemployment April,may and June after that i worked in solen after 2 months I got a Covid-19 after then I was in home till now when I was applied unemployment they denied I have to take care my son he has virtual classes I m jobless and unemployment. Now I m surprised unemployment office sent me a letter give a return money back which one they give me only 3 months I show my friend still got an employment I m from Virginia plz give me some advice are you guys heard about that secuation for anyone I was surprised.

3y
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Sharmon HANNON
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Kompass at Sas Retail

Help! I filed for UI and got back a notice of claim filed & my award amount is $0.00. I was on SDI for part of 2019 & my employer has not given me any work. I subsidized by babysitting, selling personal items & small odd jobs. On the UI application there was no place to enter that info. I assumed if I didn't qualify for UI, I would receive PUI. For 2weeks I have been calling just to be hung up on due to high call volume. Do I go ahead and certify my claim and pray for a miracle? Or do keep calling to give them further info?

4y
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Tamesha Charles
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What does it mean whaen uneployment saying regular active in progress and the issue has been resolved

4y
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Tamesha Charles
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What does it mean whaen uneployment saying regular active in progress and the issue has been resolved

4y
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Deena Di Lauri
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I was collecting benefits, and went back to work on July 6. I worked one day that period, and earned only $105.00. I have not received any monies due me for the week ending July 11, 2020. I should have received the balance of the 6 days plus the $600.00. I am back to work full time now, but would like to get what I was due while unemployed. No one answers the phone at Nj unemployment to assist me in this issue. What can I do?

4y
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Holly Hill
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I had been there for 17 years

4y
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Holly Hill
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I had to leave my job because of boss pressure to leave.

4y
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Amber White
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Does anyone know how to get the back pay in Louisiana? I have email them serval times, with no response. It is impossible to get threw on the phone I can't even get lucky enough to be put on hold. It just says they are to busy to take my call. Please help

4y
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Eileen Jones
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Filed for and received unemployment, however only received 4 600.00 pmts. My other coworkers have received those pmts every week. Will I get all the back weeks at some point? My file is still active.

4y
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carol glover
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I have filed for 4 weeks and stil waiting to be paid?

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