Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits: What You Need to Know

Coronavirus has already had a major impact on the American economy, and it could get even worse in the near future.

While every economic crisis eventually passes, it’s important to get your finances ready for a period of uncertainty.

Fortunately, both public services and private organizations are providing relief to people struggling during coronavirus.

Whether you need financial assistance now or just want to be prepared, you should start looking into these programs as soon as possible.

If you lost your job in the past several weeks, unemployment should be your top financial priority.

One Fair Wage Emergency Fund

One Fair Wage is a nonprofit that supports a true minimum wage for tipped and service workers. The One Fair Wage Emergency Fund is offering financial help to restaurant workers, delivery drivers, and Uber and Lyft drivers who have lost work due to coronavirus.

Anyone can donate to the fund, and you can sign up for help through their website. You’ll be asked for basic information about your financial situation and previous employment.

A single nonprofit can’t fill the need for widespread unemployment benefits, but One Fair Wage is doing everything they can to support families and individuals. Don’t think of this program as a replacement for government support — you should also file for unemployment as soon as possible.

Believe it or not, AOC and Fox News teamed up to give some absolutely horrible tax advice pertaining to the CARES Act stimulus package.  Learn what it is in the video below!

The CARES Act

Trump recently signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) to offer financial support to millions of Americans. The bill includes several critical measures such as direct payments of $1200 to most American adults and unemployment extensions for people who lose their jobs.

It also adds 13 weeks to the usual unemployment limit of 26 weeks as well as other measures including an additional $600 per week in benefits and payments for the week in which a claim is filed, which is currently treated as a waiting period in many states. Some other notable changes include:

  • Extending unemployment benefits to self-employed and contract workers
  • Suspending federal student loan payments through September 30th
  • Requiring businesses with fewer than 500 employees to offer at least 80 hours in paid sick leave in case workers need to take time off due to COVID-19 (whether they are sick or caring for a dependent)

Unfortunately, it will take time for checks to go out and for states to start taking these guidelines into account. Stimulus checks are expected to arrive by the end of April, but your financial concerns may not wait until then.

Note that someone could possibly make more on unemployment now than they did while employed.

So let’s say someone makes $15 an hour before taxes and all that, so that’s $600 a week for a 40-hour week.

And let’s say they get laid off.  What happens?

They apply for and get unemployment from their state.  How much depends on your state.  Here in California someone who consistently made $15 an hour for the past couple years could expect approximately $300 per week in unemployment benefits.

But they would also get $600 a week due to the CARES Act.

Add that $600 due to the CARES Act plus $300 for normal unemployment, and what do you get?  $900 per week.

State Unemployment Benefits

In the meantime, a number of states have started offering their own relief programs and adjusting unemployment in light of the CARES Act. State governments and labor departments are regularly updating their websites with the latest information.

Please note that this table was last updated on March 30, 2020, and states may have updated their programs since then.

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