Along with its severe impact on the healthcare industry, and a rising death toll, coronavirus has also led to widespread unemployment across the U.S. Much of this was attributed to businesses being forced to close as Stay-at-Home restrictions went in place across the country.
As of Friday, more than 30 million people have reportedly filed for unemployment in the last six weeks, according to CNET. That number could be even higher, after a survey from the Economic Policy Institute estimated that roughly 14 million additional people would have filed for unemployment if the process was easier. While there has been a spike in layoffs and furloughs, which has led to a backlog of applications, there are apps to help make the process slightly easier for those in need.
Part of the problem was supposed to be alleviated by the one-time $1,200 stimulus checks, which were part of the massive $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March. However, along with issues with the rollout of these payments, not everyone will end up qualifying. Even those who do are becoming increasingly vocal over how little good the one-time payment will actually do. The latter is especially true for those who've lost their job entirely due to the pandemic. If that's the case, there are some options worth looking at to help stay afloat in the meantime.
What is Unemployment Insurance?
Typically, unemployment benefits are meant to temporarily help cover the cost of living if someone's fired or laid off from their job. However, those who are self-employed and lost clients or work due to the pandemic, unemployment insurance has become an option.
Who is Eligible?
Along with regular full-time workers, both part-time and self-employed workers are now eligible to apply for unemployment insurance. Other exceptions were also made to adjust to a post-pandemic life. This includes those who couldn't start a new job due to coronavirus, anyone who collects veteran or Social Security benefits or employment with any business deemed "non-essential," meaning it was closed during various Stay-at-Home guidelines.
Additionally, anyone who has to stay home with kids who'd otherwise be in school are also eligible. However, eligibility doesn't always translate to approval, so keep that in mind when applying.
Who Isn't Eligible?
Not even will qualify. Namely, those who work from home or were given paid leave of any kind likely won't fit the bill. There are also some discrepancies here, which will vary both by state and by circumstance, including if someone was fired or quit and the reasons behind those decisions.
Do Furloughed Employees Qualify?
Those who are furloughed are, generally, put on an extended leave of absence, but will be called back to work eventually. Typically, furloughed employees aren't eligible for unemployment, but they are currently as part of the revamped insurance package.
What Does it Pay?
Unemployment insurance will pay out an extra $600 a week in addition to each state's unique unemployment benefits. It will cover you for an extra 13 weeks, which is tacked on to the maximum allotted time for unemployment.
For example, most states have unemployment benefits that can last 26 weeks, so the extension would mean coverage for up to 39 weeks. For those that have already burned through unemployment, it's still possible to apply for the insurance for 13 more weeks of potential coverage.
When Can Someone Apply?
Anytime, and given the increasing number of applicants, the sooner the better. Again, each state is different, though this website makes it easy for anyone to apply in their state of residence. The program itself was retroactively set to Jan. 27, 2020 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2020.