Key Highlights

  • Economy essentially shuttered
  • Nearly 17M applications in three weeks for unemployment insurance benefits
  • Here are answers to FAQs

Approximately 10% of the American workforce has applied for unemployment insurance benefits over the last three weeks. That 10% is the equivalent of approximately 17 M and nearly double the 8.7M claims filed during the entire Great Recession.

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Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about unemployment insurance benefits:

What is Unemployment Insurance?

This is a form of “social insurance” that provides temporary income support to those citizen workers who lose their jobs. Cash benefits are usually paid weekly to those who qualify.

Who is eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance?

Benefit eligibility includes self-employed people, independent contractors, “gig economy” workers such as Lyft/Uber drivers and people with limited work history.

Are UI benefits the same for everyone?

 No. There are two distinct variables. One, payment amounts depend on a person’s prior wages, usually over the last four quarters. Two, benefit payment amounts vary by state as each state uses different formulas to calculate the amount of payment aid.

How do I file for UI?

Go to the state unemployment office where you have worked as soon as possible after becoming unemployed. Use this link to find your unemployment office by state.

https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx

Since most unemployment offices have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, file your application either by phone or online. Some states have amended their filing procedures per last names and off hours. Click here:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/02/state-unemployment-offices-scramble-to-handle-jobless-claims-surge.html

Be persistent…systems and the staggering numbers of people applying for benefits are overwhelming all involved.

What are the Benefits?

The CARES Act relief law has expanded payments to approximately $978/week for an “average” worker. This $978 represents an increase of 159% in UI benefits due to the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This UI runs for approximately 4 months. Those remaining unemployed will receive UI benefit payments for an additional 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks through December 31.

Again, the amount of weekly payments varies by state. The state providing the highest weekly minimum is Massachusetts followed by Hawaii and the state/territory providing the lowest weekly minimum is Puerto Rico followed by Mississippi.

Again, Eligibility for UI Benefits as a Result of the Coronavirus Pandemic is Determined by Any of the Following, according to the US Labor Department:

  • Your employer permanently or temporarily laid you off
  • Your employer reduced your work hours
  • You are self employed and have lost income
  • You are quarantined by COVID-19 and cannot work
  • You are unable to work due to a risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Thanks to CNBC.

Also read: Pandemic Erodes Wealth of 500,000 Millionaires Plus Everyone Else’s, Podcast: Good News For Housing And Economy? | Top 5 Headlines Worth Celebrating, UN Agency Predicts COVID-19 To Cost 195M Global Jobs in Q2 2020

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