[Updated with latest provisions] Under the recently enacted $2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus bill (CARE) unemployment insurance coverage will be extended and supplemented as follows:
- Under a provision known as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) state-level unemployment insurance will be extended by an additional 13 weeks thanks to federal funding under the CARE stimulus. So state unemployment maximum benefits that normally last 26 weeks for example, would now last up-to 39 weeks. The extended benefits will last through Dec. 31, 2020.
- An additional payment of up to $600 per week on top of the current and extended state UI benefits will be provided through to July 31, 2020.
Eligibility rules have also been expanded to cover more workers, including contractors and those who are self-employed. The extra boost is nearly double the current UI maximum payment in many states (see state level maximums) so has created some controversy whereby some lower income workers may get more via unemployment than through their normal wages.
Do I need to reapply for unemployment benefits with new PUA extension in place? Workers who have exhausted their current benefits will likely need to re-apply for the additional and extended coverage UI benefits now in place via their state UI program website (see list here).
When will the $600 Unemployment Benefit Payment Start?
The additional federally subsidized UI benefit payment will be applied to your current (active) benefit amount once the federal government releases funds to the relevant state UI administration agency. This should start happening from April 2020. Note that if you have already exhausted your current state UI benefits, you will still be eligible for this additional/extra temporary benefits boost as it is funded separately under the stimulus bill.
As of now most state unemployment agencies are still awaiting formal guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL) on the implementation of the new federal provisions and funding. They will need these details to update systems to accommodate mandated changes. As a result state UI agency websites are behind on processing the additional $600 p/week payment. Most are committing to have the updates in place my mid-to-late April. If you already receive UI benefits you will automatically be added to new stimulus programs if eligible and receive these payments as you currently do. Others or newly unemployed will need to (re-)apply for the UI payments.
Will I get the full $600? The $600 is added to whatever amount you are currently getting, whether it’s the minimum or the maximum. So for example even if you are only getting $50 a week in unemployment benefits today you will still get the full $600 through the next four months which is mandated in the stimulus bill.
Also note that the $600 is paid retroactively. Payments are effective starting with the week ending 4/5/20. So, if it takes your state UI agency until mid-April to actually start the payments, they will be retroactive back to 4/5/20. The $600 only applies to those who are receiving unemployment benefits. If your state said that you don’t qualify for UI, then you do not get the $600 either. The bill also waived the 7 day waiting period for new claims. So you can file as soon as you get laid off or lose income as a self employed person.
With over 2.25 unemployment claims filed in the last week along, America is facing not only a health crisis, but a Jobs one as well.
The recently passed Families First Cronavirus Response Act has resulted in several economic stimulus measures, once of which is Enhanced unemployment benefits. The bill provides $1 billion in 2020 for emergency grants to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
$500 million of the additional funding would be used to provide immediate additional funding to all states for staffing, technology, systems, and other administrative costs, so long as they met basic requirements about ensuring access to earned benefits for eligible workers.
How unemployment insurance works and how to qualify
It mainly depends on where you live because states administer the Unemployment insurance program. But often get help, per the bill discussed above, from the federal government to bolster the state’s UI program and availability of benefits.
Eligibility and benefits are generally calculated as a percentage of your income over the past year, up to a certain maximum. The benefits or UI payment is between 14 and 26 weeks, but can be extended by supporting federal funds.
States would be required to report on the share of eligible individuals who received UI benefits and the state’s efforts to ensure access within one year of receiving the funding. The funding would be distributed in the same proportions as regular UI administrative funding provided through annual appropriations.
The remaining $500 million would be reserved for emergency grants to states which experienced at least a 10 percent increase in unemployment. Those states would be eligible to receive an additional grant, in the same amount as the initial grant, to assist with costs related to the unemployment spike, and would also be required to take steps to temporarily ease eligibility requirements that might be limiting access to UI during the COVID-19 outbreak, like work search requirements, required waiting periods, and requirements to increase employer UI taxes if they have high layoff rates.
Source: FFCRA bill