Expanded Unemployment Benefits: What You Need to Know

Blog posted On May 13, 2020

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In addition to the millions of American workers who have lost their job due to coronavirus-related closures, millions of other American workers have lost hours or wages without fully losing their job.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed to expand unemployment benefits to all workers impacted by the pandemic, including independent contractors, part-time workers, and those who are self-employed.

If you have lost your job or had your income impacted by coronavirus, you may be entitled to some of these benefits. 

Who qualifies under the CARES Act?

The CARES Act was passed to protect workers who lost all or some wages as a result of the coronavirus, including if they were sickened by the virus, if they are caring for someone who has the virus, or if they are in quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.

You may also qualify for benefits if:

  • Your workplace closed due to a public health emergency
  • You had to quit your job because of coronavirus
  • You can no longer work because you are the primary caregiver for a child or other dependent whose school or facility has closed
  • You were going to start a new job, but your contract was cancelled due to coronavirus

The CARES Act also extends protections to self-employed workers like delivery drivers, ride-share drivers, or other gig workers who traditionally would not qualify for unemployment benefits. 

How much money will you receive?

Unemployment benefits vary from state to state.  As part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, you are also eligible to receive an additional $600 each week.  This additional weekly payment will not impact your ability to qualify for income-based health insurance.  Currently, this program is capped at 39 weeks, but an extension may be granted.

Even if you are experiencing financial hardship, it’s important to try and keep paying your bills or at least making minimum payments.  Claiming these benefits can help you bridge that gap. 


Sources: MarketWatch