Here’s a Quick Primer on the New, Expanded Unemployment Benefits

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Would you like some more details about the hugely increased unemployment benefits in the coronavirus rescue bill? Sure you would. Here’s a short Q&A:

Who qualifies for expanded unemployment benefits? All the gory details are here (starting in Section 2101) but here’s the nickel summary.

Covered individuals include anyone normally eligible for unemployment benefits under your state’s laws. Additionally, you are covered even if you are (a) self-employed, (b) seeking part-time employment, (c) do not have sufficient work history, (d) otherwise wouldn’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits, or (e) you have exhausted your normal and emergency benefits under state law.

You are not eligible for benefits if you can telecommute or you’re on sick leave.

You must provide self-certification that you are unemployed or partially unemployed or unavailable to work because:

  • You or a family member has COVID-19.
  • You are providing care for a family member with COVID-19 or for a child whose school is closed.
  • You can’t get to work because of a quarantine or self-quarantine.
  • You were scheduled to start work but your job was canceled or you are unable to reach the job due to COVID-19.
  • Your place of employment is closed or you have to quit your job due to COVID-19.
  • You are the main breadwinner for your household because your spouse died as a direct result of COVID-19.

How much will you get?

  • You will receive what you would normally get under your state’s laws plus $600 per week.

Even if you are not eligible for benefits under your state’s laws (for example, because you are self-employed) you will still receive:

If you apply for benefits in March and use them through July, you will receive your regular benefits plus approximately $12,000 in expanded benefits. That’s ten times the amount you’ll get from the stimulus checks.

How long will you get expanded unemployment benefits?

  • Normal extended benefits are authorized for a period of 39 weeks between January 27 and December 31.
  • The $600 bonus is authorized through July 31, 2020.
  • There is no one-week waiting period. Benefits begin as soon as you become eligible.

Beyond this there are some fiddly details that apply to a very small number of people. (For example, if you’ve exhausted your normal benefits you don’t qualify for expanded benefits if you are receiving unemployment compensation from Canada.) For the vast majority of you, however, this post tells you most of what you need to know.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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