We know that work is scarce and times are challenging. We also know that this, too, shall pass.
Until it does, until this coronavirus pandemic is defeated, you may have lost your job or had your hours slashed.
The good news is that the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in late March includes a big expansion of both the length and amount of unemployment insurance, or UI, available. The deal even expands UI to cover gig workers, independent contractors and individuals who are self-employed.
If you can’t work or have had your hours cut because of COVID-19, here’s what you need to know now:
> Workers will be eligible for a $600 weekly boost on top of regular state unemployment benefits.
> The stimulus bill is giving a federally funded weekly pay boost to those who are unemployed.
> In addition to regular state unemployment insurance, individuals will receive an additional $600 per week for up to four months. In total, unemployed workers will receive 39 weeks of unemployment benefits, which will carry them through to the end of 2020.
State unemployment benefits vary from state to state but averaged $385 a week nationwide in January. Adding the $600 boost included in the stimulus package would bring an average weekly unemployment check to $985, which exceeds the median weekly earnings of $936 in the fourth quarter.
Traditionally, most states have imposed a seven-day waiting period before newly unemployed workers could start receiving their unemployment benefits. In the new stimulus package, however, the federal government is stepping in to provide full funding for that first week, should states elect to waive the waiting period. Presumably, with Uncle Sam paying, most of them would.
You’ve no doubt heard that unemployment offices are overwhelmed right now. Unemployment offices are chronically underfunded, under-resourced, lacking in technologies and just generally busy as it is. In other words, it’s not the least bit surprising that they’re scrambling to try and keep up. But they’ll get to everybody. Just keep persisting.