- US Senate coronavirus relief bill expands unemployment insurance benefits
- Larger checks for longer duration periods to formerly ineligible workers
- This week’s unemployment claims hit a record 3.3M
The $2T Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed by the US Senate this week is multi-faceted but the one we’re focusing on today is unemployment benefits. And yes, independent contractors, gig workers and freelancers are eligible now – a first!
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A record breathtaking in its numbers of 3.3M filed on March 26 for unemployment insurance benefits so plan on being patient.
Benefits are increasing:
- This new legislation will now offer a typical work $985 per week for four months followed by up to 23 weeks of $385 per week in standard state benefits. The maximum duration has been extended to 39 weeks…nearly 10 months.
- Know that state benefits are widely different, some being more generous than others and some (typically southern states) less so.
- Obviously, these benefits depend on various factors including your prior wages usually based upon the worker’s prior four quarters of wages.
- Know that unemployment benefits are taxable.
Who Is Qualified?
- You are qualified/eligible to collect unemployment if you have been laid off or furloughed (temporarily laid off) by your employer.
- You are eligible to collect unemployment if you are self-employed, one who is seeking part-time work, workers whose place of employment has been shuddered due to COVID-19 and people who haven’t a sufficient work history to otherwise qualify for benefits.
- You are eligible if you quit your job “as a direct result of COVID-19.” (People who quit jobs normally don’t qualify but they do now.)
- You are eligible to collect unemployment if you are a gig worker and/or an independent contractor rather than a salaried employee
- The US Dept. of Labor will shortly publish guidelines as to the documentation needed to verify your work history and wages. Tax forms and some kind of payment stub ought to do it but confirm with the Labor Dept.’s coming guidelines.
- These guidelines should also define whether or not and how gig workers and independent contractors can get benefits for “a severe drop in income” in lieu of an outright job loss.
How to Apply?
- Apply on line or by phone and do NOW
- Go online to Department of Labor in your state to find contact information
- Since most offices around the country have been closed due to stay-at-home restrictions by state governors, know that wait times both online and on phone lines will be longer than “normal”
How Long Before Receiving Benefits?
- It usually takes 2-3 weeks after filing a claim to receive a first check.
- Some states require a 1-week waiting period but many of those states may waive that waiting period.
- The Senate legislation offers funding for the first week of unemployment benefits for states that choose to pay people as soon as they have become unemployed.
Be patient…these online and phone line connections will be overwhelmed.
Updated March 30, 2020
Thanks to CNBC.