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Unemployment Benefits Under the CARES Act (COVID-19 Relief Act)

Date: May 20, 2020

With the rapid approach of the start of June Special COLAs many of us have been seeking to obtain information regarding unemployment benefits. As part of the COVID-19 Relief Act enacted at the end of March, Congress increased by $600 the amount of weekly Unemployment Insurance (UI) payments that laid off and furloughed workers can receive through July 31, 2020. 

The CARES Act also extends the number of weeks of eligibility for long term unemployed people by 13 weeks to the current state term (normally 26 weeks) to a maximum of 39 weeks, temporarily eliminates work-search requirements and minimum work history (under normal rules, only those who have been employed for a year are eligible), and expands the categories of eligible workers to include self-employed and gig workers, in addition to traditional employees. 

Generally, if you take a leave or a reduction in hours as a result of the downturn, you will be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, the scale and scope of these benefits will vary depending on the state where you are based. 

For more information about the changes the CARES Act made to the unemployment insurance, we recommend this guide put together by our friends at the National Employment Law Project. Visit this website to look up eligibility requirements in your state. Unemployment benefits will be less than what your salary was, but these funds will be an important part of your new income.

The following information has been compiled courtesy of our AFA International Office staff.

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