With many people out of work, furloughed, or experiencing cuts to their hours, unemployment benefits are more important than ever. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has expanded unemployment insurance for Americans, loosening the rules for who is eligible for benefits, how much help you can get, and how long you can receive aid.
That means just about everyone who has lost their income because of the COVID-19 pandemic now qualifies for some form of unemployment insurance.
Even if you’re familiar with unemployment insurance, it’s worth catching up on the latest information. Below are some of the questions we’re seeing about unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has loosened eligibility requirements allowing gig-workers, self-employed people, and those whose hours have been cut to receive unemployment compensation. Officials have also boosted benefits, both in the amount of compensation provided and the length of time you can receive benefits.
Unfortunately, lockdowns and stay-at-home initiatives have resulted in many businesses closing their doors—and leaving their employees without work. As a result, record numbers of Americans are applying for benefits. The $2 trillion coronavirus relief deal will help fund these additional needs, but the claims process will likely take longer for many applicants.
In short: more people are eligible for more benefits, and more people are applying every day.
While the rule changes were made by the federal government, state governments administer the benefits. You have to file for unemployment in the state where you live, and many state unemployment offices are overwhelmed by new applications. You can expect longer wait times, and it’s important to have all your information in order before you file a claim.