About 6.64 million of Americans have filed for unemployment within a month. A lot of businesses and organizations are either furloughing or laying off their employees due to the coronavirus crisis. This places more responsibility on the government to cater to millions of unemployed Americans.
Workers who lose their jobs as a result of layoffs are provided with a compensation called ‘unemployment insurance’ which provides monetary support over a specific period of time until the unemployed worker gets a new job. These unemployment benefits are provided by state unemployment programs as authorized by Federal law.
In response to the coronavirus impact on individual finances, the US government approved a $2 trillion stimulation package that would provide financial relief to businesses and US citizens that have lost their jobs. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act extends to full-time workers who have recently lost their jobs, self-employed workers, and part-time workers. There are also state benefits that pay an additional $600 per week. The amount differs in the various states. The US federal government has also allowed states to apply flexibility in providing unemployment benefits.
If your job, business, or employment status has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, here’s how to go about applying for unemployment benefits.
Who is Eligible to receive these benefits?
The primary criteria for being eligible for unemployment benefits is if you lose your job and it wasn’t your fault. In the case of voluntarily quitting your job or getting fired for questionable reasons, there may be a few complications in applying for the unemployment benefit.
According to the CARES Act, those eligible to receive unemployment benefits are individuals that are unable to work completely or working at reduced hours due to the coronavirus crisis. This includes people who have been directly impacted by the virus by either being diagnosed with the virus, showing symptoms of the virus, or caring for someone with the virus.
The CARE act also considers those who have also been indirectly affected by the virus. This includes:
Emergency shutdown of workplaces due to the outbreak and public health protection
Laid off staff from firms affected by the coronavirus
New employees who were supposed to start a new job until the outbreak occurred
Inability to keep self-owned businesses and contracts running because of the coronavirus outbreak
NB: Anyone outside of these categories is not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. For example, employees who are still able to work from home without any interference.
The application process may differ according to state, therefore, applicants should contact their state’s unemployment office to apply. Other options would be to file a claim online or over the phone if there are movement restrictions within a particular state. Once a claim has been placed, the applicant would be required to provide the following information:
Name, Social Security Number (SSN), and driver’s license number (US citizens).
Name, Alien Registration Number and expiration date (non-US citizens).
Bank information (account number, routing number, and address) for direct deposit.
Name of the employer as written on pay stub or W-2.
Employer’s complete address and phone number
Employee/applicant’s start and end date
Reason for being unemployed
The provided information is general all through the states, only if a state asks for additional information. The acceptable employer information must have a working duration of 18 to 24 months. Considering the large number of people applying for unemployment benefits at the same time, there would be a delay in processing all the applications. The ever-increasing unemployment statistics are causing websites to crash and phone lines to jam. There is no fixed kick-off period and it may take a few weeks to receive the first batch of checks.
How much money would be provided?
The weekly unemployment benefits are categorized into two parts:
The benefit allowance allocated to each state (the calculation differs by state)
The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation additional $600 per week
Note that: Payments would be made weekly to all concerned people, with a current 39-week cap.
Normally, the process of applying for unemployment benefits isn’t a tedious one. Once a person has been laid off from their jobs there will be high chances to qualify to file unemployment benefits. Before applicant’s applications would be fully approved, certain questions would be asked. Applicants would be asked;
if they want taxes withheld from their unemployment check
if they are owed any vacation or holiday pay
the reason for leaving a job
Note: Failure to appropriately answer any questions asked may complicate your application process
The unemployment benefits waiting period is solely determined by the states. Some states have a waiting period of one week which they call “waiting week”. While other states have a longer waiting period. Due to the coronavirus crisis, many states have withheld their waiting periods until further notice. Once that has been clarified, approved applicants would be informed when to expect their first checks or claims.