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Applying for Unemployment Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Applying for Unemployment Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Millions of Americans have found themselves out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are wondering whether you are eligible for applying for unemployment insurance, then look no further. This article will help answer your many questions about applying for unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applying for Unemployment Insurance

The FFCRA and CARES Act:

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law on March 18, 2020 by President Trump. This is a law that provides extra flexibility for unemployment insurance agencies in states and additional funding on administration as a response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Closely following this was the signing into law of the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020. The law increases the ability of the state to offer unemployment insurance to as many workers as possible who are affected by this pandemic. It will also include workers not normally qualified or unemployment assistance. Many Americans are seeking help with applying for unemployment insurance.

Application Procedure: Applying for Unemployment Insurance

Man fills in Unemployment benefits application form.

If you want to benefit from the unemployment insurance, you have to claim the benefits from the unemployment insurance program at the state where you last worked. You may file the claims by telephone, in person, or online depending on state stipulations. Here’s some more tips for applying for unemployment insurance:

  • When you lose your job, immediately contact the state’s unemployment insurance program.
  • As a rule, claims should be made in the state where you held your last job. If you are not currently living in the state where you work before or you held positions in different states, seek further guidance on the action to take from your current state of residence’s unemployment insurance agency.
  • When making the insurance claim, there is a requirement to provide some information such as your former employer’s address and date of employment; make sure that you provide this information accurately to speed up your benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions About Applying for Unemployment Insurance

Is an independent contractor entitled to the benefits provided by the CARES Act?

Your eligibility for applying for unemployment insurance will depend on your circumstances and the implementation policy of the state on the CARES Act. A state has the power to offer Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to self-employed persons, those looking for part-time jobs, or anyone else who does not meet the qualifications for unemployment compensation.

Those eligible for PUA assistance are the ones that are ineligible for ordinary unemployment benefits, are unemployed, partly unemployed, or cannot work as a result of economic or health repercussions of COVID-19 pandemic.

The program offers benefits equal to 39 weeks, they are available to people who lost employment on or after January 27, 2020, and it will end on or before December 31, 2020. The amount payable is dependent on the state, and calculations are made in consideration of a state’s Weekly Benefits Amounts (WBA) under the provisions of its unemployment insurance laws.

Is there relief under the CARES Act for persons who exhaust their ordinary unemployment benefits?

The CARES Act allows states to continue issuing unemployment benefits for a period not exceeding 13 weeks; the provision is in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. The benefits under PEUC fall on employment weeks following the state’s implementation of the program and end with unemployment weeks that end on or before December 31, 2020.

This program benefits individuals who have finished ordinary unemployment benefits and are ineligible for an extension but can work, offer themselves for work, and aggressively looking for employment based on state law. This may or may not be a requirement for applying for unemployment insurance.

However, the state is mandated by the CARES Act to exercise flexibility to determine if the applicant is “actively seeking work” for those who cannot find employment due to COVID-19, as a result of illness, isolation, or restrictions of movement.

Can I receive extra relief if my ordinary unemployment benefits are inadequate because of the economic challenges brought out by COVID-19?

You can receive extra relief, but this will depend on your state’s implementation of the CARES Act. A new program, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), has the provision of an extra weekly $600 to people with regular unemployment benefits.

The availability for applying for unemployment insurance are offered for the period of unemployment starting after the date when your state signed the contract with the U.S Department of Labor; it ends with unemployment weeks that end on or before July 31, 2020.

As a result of the effects of COVID-19, I cannot reimburse the state unemployment benefits on time since I operate a nonprofit organization. What steps should I take?

You need to get in touch with the state’s unemployment insurance office to find out your options for delayed reimbursement payments. The CARES Act permits states to offer the utmost flexibility to employers who reimburse the state. This is in place of an evaluation of interest and penalties and contributions.

Do I qualify for ordinary unemployment compensation? Should I be applying for unemployment insurance?

Applying for Unemployment Insurance

Different states have specific guidelines that it follows to determine the eligibility of unemployment insurance benefits; however, most of them provide benefits for those who fall in the categories below:

  1. It is not your fault that you have no employment; that is, your situation is as a result of there being no work available.
  2. You meet the requirements of wage and work. You should satisfy the needs of your state for time worked and wages earned for a set period that is known as “base period.”
  3. Satisfy any other requirements by the state.
I worked in a store, but I quit working for fear of contracting COVID-19 from customers visiting the store, but I am not sick, and neither is any member of my household. Do I qualify for assistance under the CARES Act?

You do not qualify to benefit under the Act. None of your circumstances is stipulated in the Act. Also, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) does not cover your situation as you willingly quit employment. In your case, you would qualify for the benefits if a healthcare provider advised you to self-quarantine due to the risk of exposure.

I am currently working from home while my spouse is still going to work. However, since my children are also home, I care for them, which makes it difficult for me to work. Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(dd) of the CARES Act allows me to self-certify if I am unable to work because of the kids being at home. Can I benefit from PUA?

You might qualify for benefits under PUA. The CARES Act offers PUA benefits to a person providing primary care to a child who is not attending school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for you to qualify, you have to prove that your child/children need all-around care that makes it impossible to carry out your work functions.

Also, note that PUA only applies when a child is home due to COVID-19 and needs care at home. Once the pandemic is over, the benefits will not apply, and you will have to look for alternative arrangements for the care of their children.

I am a student who has partial employment. Can I get PUA benefits under CARES Act if I certify not to work as I am in ride-sharing service provision?

Eligibility depends on individual circumstances. You could argue that the guidelines on social distancing by the local, state, and federal governments have negatively affected your job as customer demand for your services has reduced. This will lead to a suspension of operations, which will make you eligible for PUA benefits.

I was previously furloughed, but the business has resumed operations, and I have been asked to go back to work. Can I choose to remain unemployed?

No, you cannot. As a requirement, if you are getting regular unemployment benefits, you should take up any job offer that comes up. Except in exceptional circumstances, your situation constitutes an offer for employment, which you must accept as you would eligible for the benefits if you decline work.

For you to be eligible for PUA, you have to be aggressively looking for work and are unemployed as a result of COVID-19. Also, qualifications for PUA apply if your employer is out of operations due to the COVID-19 emergency.

When the business is back to functioning, and you are asked to resume work, your suitability for PUA ceases unless you can state other reasons for declining employment that are stipulated under the CARES Act.

A worker in my business quit employment as they would instead get unemployment compensation under the provisions of the CARES Act. Does the situation make him qualified for unemployment? What should I do if he does not?

PUA or regular unemployment compensation does not cover that employee. The two programs do not include an individual who voluntarily stops working. Also, to qualify for PUA, a person has to be disqualified for ordinary unemployment compensation or prolonged benefits that fall under federal or state law, unemployment compensation on pandemic emergency, and meet the qualification conditions stated under CARES Act.

Various situations qualify an individual for unemployment compensation that relates to COVID-19. However, voluntarily quitting employment to get the benefits does not qualify as a valid situation.

If you left your job for the sole purpose of accessing higher profits and provide untruthful information while applying for UI on the reason for unemployment, this would be seen as committing fraud.

As an employer, you can contest the unemployment insurance claims for this employee by following the guidelines provided by your state’s unemployment insurance agency.

Additional Tips

Applying for Unemployment Insurance

In conclusion, to benefits from the several unemployment laws in place, you have to prove that your circumstances are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has to directly affect your work situation as the Acts only relate to cases touching on COVID-19.

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to be applying for uneployment insurance, contact your state’s Department of Labor for further clarification and also make use of this unemployment insurance guide during COVID-19 outbreak.

If you need more assistance during this uncertain time, try looking into government assistance programs. One of the easiest to apply for is the Lifeline Assistance Program, which offers free cell phones and monthly minutes. Q Link Wireless is one of the largest providers of the Lifeline Assistance Program. Apply for Q Link Wireless today and receive a free cell phone, free monthly data, and free monthly minutes!

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