Trying to figure out if you're eligible for and how to apply for COVID stimulus and unemployment benefits is actually quite hard. We've received a lot of the same questions over the past few weeks, which we've outlined below along with our best attempts at answering them. We hope it helps!
We’ve received a ton of great questions about the COVID stimulus package and unemployment benefits over the past few weeks. Here are our answers.
If you’re not sure yet if you qualify for unemployment insurance or COVID benefits, you can take our quiz to find out 😎.
What does the the CARES Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package, actually include? Here are the most important elements for workers to know:
The only application you need to complete is for Unemployment Insurance (UI). If your claim is approved you will automatically receive the $600/week in addition to your regular UI payment. The $600/week will last until July 31, 2020 as long as you remain on UI.
If you’re already receiving unemployment, you should automatically start receiving the $600/week. No additional application is needed.
The roll out process has been slow, so if you haven’t received your benefits yet, it should be on the way soon.
The CARES Act made unemployment insurance available to self-employed folks who have lost wages or their jobs due to COVID. Once you’re approved for UI, you’ll start receiving regular UI benefits as well as the additional $600/week stipend.
If your income has been reduced, but you’re still making some money, you can receive partial unemployment benefits as long as you're earning less than your state’s weekly maximum benefit. For example, the maximum weekly benefit in California is $450 per week, so you’ll only qualify for unemployment if you’re making roughly less than that each week. Each state operates a bit differently, so double check on your state’s website.
This goes for everyone who now qualifies for UI, including self-employed workers.
You don’t! The amount will be directly deposited into your account or sent via check. The amount you receive will be based on your adjusted gross income (basically all of your income minus certain deductions like student loan payments) from your 2019 federal tax return, or 2018 if you haven’t filed yet. There is an income limitation. If you made less than $75,000, you're eligible for the full amount, and if you made less than $99,000, you'll receive a reduced amount. If you made over $99,000, you're not eligible. You can estimate your calculation here 🤓.
Timing is TBD. Here’s the latest information:
When you’re completing the unemployment insurance application, certain sections might be a bit confusing such as when you're asked to list your current supervisor.
First, you should see if your state has provided guidance on their UI portal (look for it in the COVID-19 resource page or FAQs!). Many states, however, haven’t shared clear guidance yet. The best we’ve seen so far has been from New York. It won’t be exactly the same, but if you’re stuck and can’t reach anyone on the phone for help, you might want to check out their instructions.
It usually takes ~2ish weeks for UI claims to be approved, but it could take much longer as states try to keep up with the massive surge in demand. Benefits will be applied retroactively to when you lost employment/wages etc. Here’s also a few things that you’ll need to do while you wait:
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Note: We do everything we can to stay up to date, but we in no way make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the material contained herein, and, as such, you should not rely on it. Lastly, nothing contained herein should be construed as creating an attorney-client or other contractual relationship.
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