The CARES Act Reviewed: Part III Expanded Unemployment Benefits
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE OUT OF WORK
With millions of people out of work due to the Coronavirus, the CARES Act provides much-needed relief in the form of expanded unemployment benefits. It covers workers previously ineligible for benefits, including self-employed, part-time workers, gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. It also helps those who have recently exhausted their weeks of benefits and those who haven’t earned enough to qualify for state unemployment. And, it offers benefits to those who are personally affected by the virus due to being ill themselves or being a caretaker to a family member who is sick and many more.
A new program of this size and scope will take a lot of time to get set up and it’s challenging to get the most up-to-date and accurate information. For people who are applying for benefits, the wait-times are long, and state websites are crashing. And there are stories that some workers won’t get the full benefit due to not being able to document their income fully. But it will help many people.
Here are details that I have been able to glean so far:
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
This is an addition to regular state unemployment checks.
Those who have lost their jobs will get whatever their state usually provides for unemployment, plus $600 per week for up to July 31.
Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation:
People who have exhausted their regular State benefits (which max-out at 26 weeks in California), could get up to 13 more weeks, for a total of 39 weeks.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
For newly eligible workers.
The program will provide temporary unemployment assistance to the self-employed and people unable to work for many reasons due to the COVID-19 emergency, for example, people who have contracted the virus, caretakers, people who can’t work because of quarantines, or the person’s place of business has closed. This program does not require a person to actively seek work to receive benefits like most state programs. The benefits are available for the duration of the covered person’s inability to work, beginning retroactively to January 27, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020, up to a maximum of 39 weeks. These benefits will be no less than $600 a week.
Federal Incentives to Create Short-Time Compensation Programs
The Federal Government will fund 100% of the costs for states that currently have an STC program (California has one) and 50% for those states that choose to implement one through December 2020. These programs are also known as work-sharing or shared-work programs and are an alternative to layoffs for employers experiencing a reduction in available work.
Note: This bill leaves out those workers who are able to work from home, and those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave. New entrants to the workforce who cannot find jobs would also be ineligible.
Here are some additional resources:
- Sign up to Get Updates to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
- How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits in California
- California Employment Development Department
If you missed Part II: Retirement Account Provisions, go here
Next up: The CARES ACT and Small-Business Provisions