Unemployment Benefits and the CARES Act

ABC Compliant Blog Team 5/1/20

Unemployment benefits have suddenly become a lot more complicated during COVID-19, due to all the different types of relief measures available from the federal government.

Unemployment Benefits Overview

The coronavirus CARES Act introduced three main changes to how unemployment benefits work.

1. Additional $600 a week

The first is an additional $600 to the weekly benefit amount an eligible (laid off) employee would otherwise receive. An employee who’s eligible for $700 in unemployment benefits would therefore be receiving $1,300 total, if they were to be laid off.

Referred to as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provision, this will be available for all weeks of unemployment between April 5, 2020 and July 31, 2020 and will be paid out for any week where the individual receives unemployment benefits.

2. Additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits

The second is an increase to the maximum number of weeks an individual is eligible to receive benefits. As part of the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation (PUEC) provision, an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits are available extending what is typically capped at 26 weeks to 39 weeks. These additional weeks will also include the additional $600 as outlined in the FPUC provision so long as they are before July 31, 2020.

3. Unemployment benefits for self-employed folks and contractors

The third change is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision which expands the program to apply to workers who would otherwise not qualify for unemployment benefits. Now, self-employed individuals and independent contractors are eligible for unemployment benefits if they find themselves unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19.

Since these programs are state run, it’s best to reference your state’s Department of Labor guidelines to estimate the full amount of unemployment benefits you would be eligible for.

Self-employed individuals also qualify for the $600 weekly unemployment benefit under the Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation provision.

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