As states close down and businesses are shuttered because of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, record numbers of the newly out-of-work have been applying for unemployment insurance (UI) to help pay the bills.
In the week ending March 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that 6.6 million new benefit claims had been filed, while 3.3 million had filed the previous week.1 Some experts are predicting higher levels than the Great Depression.
The DOL has already provided new guidance to increase the flexibility that states have in administering their unemployment insurance.
Now, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion economic relief plan passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, has expanded unemployment benefits to Americans who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
As states ramp up in the face of the tsunami of claims, here is what you need to know about applying for unemployment insurance right now.
1. Unemployment insurance claims related to COVID-19 catapulted to 3.28 million in the week ending March 21, 2020.
2. The new CARES Act has expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to gig and freelance workers and part-time workers who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
3. In addition to receiving a percentage of their salary, unemployed workers who can’t work because of COVID-19 are eligible to have $600 a week added to their checks through July 25, 2020, or July 26, 2020.
4. Most states recommend applying for UI online and following website updates for news.