COVID-19 Resources

The CARES Act Expands Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Written on March 29, 2020

The CARES Act significantly expands unemployment benefits to those unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Act includes coverage for those typically not eligible for unemployment benefits, such as independent contractors, those who are self-employed and gig employees. Coverage is extended to individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, have been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine, are providing care to a household or family member with the virus and those caring for children under age 18 due to school and daycare closures.

The Act provides an extra $600 per week over the next four months for those who are out of work and receive unemployment benefits in their state. This is in addition to state unemployment benefits received.

The $600 weekly benefit applies regardless of what an employee’s pay was; therefore, some individuals may be paid more for not working due to a qualifying event related to the coronavirus.

While the $600 weekly benefit is payable for up to four months through July 31st, the Act extends state unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks, from 26 weeks to 39 weeks, ending December 31, 2020.

Eligibility for those who are still working but have had their hours and pay reduced will depend on the state’s eligibility rules. Some, but not all, states have temporarily expanded their rules and benefits to provide greater coverage as a result of the outbreak.

Generally, unemployment claims should be filed with the unemployment insurance program of the state in which an individual works. Most can be filed by phone or online. While some states have a one-week waiting period before you can file a claim, many states have waived such period as a result of the outbreak.

You can find your state’s unemployment program here.

This article reflects our views at the time this article was written and should be used as reference only. We recommend that you talk to your Warren Averett advisor, or another business advisor, for the most current information or for guidance specific to your organization.

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