If your job has been affected by COVID-19, there is a range of things that you can, and should, do starting by claiming unemployment if it applies, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. Over 2.2 trillion dollars have been pumped into the U.S. economy to keep citizens supported and not only surviving but supported so well that they can continue doing business and innovating. We’re taking you through a look at what to do if your job has been affected by COVID-19 in the United States. Even those with no work history are entitled to benefits under special circumstances.
If you lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic, then it is imperative for you to claim unemployment. Every employee in every state is entitled to unemployment if they lost their job due to no fault of their own. This includes self-employed individuals & those losing their jobs because of COVID-19 since the implementation of the CARES Act, which also extends the standard remuneration period of twenty-six weeks by an additional thirteen weeks of benefits (maximum of 39-weeks total). There are a number of factors to keep in mind to make sure that your claim is approved and sustained for its full valid term. Here’s a look at what it takes to claim your unemployment benefits in the United States.
The CARES Act
President Trump signed The CARES Act Works for All Americans into law on March 27th, 2020. It grants unemployment benefits to those eligible with the inclusion of those of would not normally qualify for benefits. For example, those who are self-employed or part of the gig economy. The CARES Act supplies benefits for those who have found themselves unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work due to COVID-19 during the period ranging January 27th, 2020 through December 31st, 2020. Here’s an overview of the main details and benefits of the CARES Act rolled out to a total value of $2 Trillion:
- $600 additional benefits per week (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) above any existing unemployment received through July 31st, 2020
- 13-weeks of additional unemployment benefits, extending the unemployment period to a maximum of 39-weeks
- unemployment benefits for those without adequate work history & those otherwise unqualified but having lost their work due to reasons related to the coronavirus
- payments in cash up to $1200 and an additional $500 for every child aged sixteen or under
The Labor Department clarified that anyone of the following scenarios makes you eligible to claim unemployment:
- Permanently or temporarily laid off
- Reduced work hours
- Self-employed and lost income
- Unable to work due to quarantine
- Cannot work due to risk of exposure
- Can’t work due to caring for a family member who contracted the coronavirus
Are you capable of working?
In order to claim unemployment, you have to be actively seeking a job – if you are capable of working, of course. Employers are responsible for employee health and safety, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). If you’re over a certain age or within a certain risk group, then you must be allowed to work from home, or your job will end up compromised. If this is the case, you may be able to claim unemployment within actively seeking a similar position.
Are you available to work?
In order to qualify and stay qualified for unemployment benefits, you have to be available to work. You cannot refuse jobs without valid medical grounds. Keeping yourself unable to work due to unimposed responsibilities will result in claims being denied or benefits ceasing.
Are you actively seeking out new work?
In order to retain your unemployment benefits for the full term of remuneration, you need to be actively looking for new employment. Depending on-State legislature, you will need to submit all jobs you’ve applied to on a weekly basis showing that you’re actively trying to join the workforce.
Do you meet minimum earnings to claim?
In order to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits, each state will have a different minimum earnings level for a period spanning a year called the “base period.” Individuals need to have earned an income for a period of six months, at least, in addition to meeting the income threshold for each state. Even if you don’t have any work provable work history or history of earnings, you are eligible to claim a stimulus check if you’ve received a job offer, but it was rescinded due to the coronavirus or recently started working but had your position rescinded.
Documentation to get ready
- Social security number
- DD 214 Member #4 Form if you served in the military
- Standard Form 8 or Standard Form 50 if you worked for the federal government
- Names, addresses and contact information of the previous employer
- Federal ID number of the last employer from W2 form or pay stub
- Dates worked and gross remuneration from each employer
- Identification document such as Driver’s license, voter’s registration form or State ID
- Work permit and Alien Registration Number when applicable
- Proof of current address & telephone number
- Bank account information for deposited benefits if so chosen
Getting results from busy offices
If you find yourself eligible but are struggling to get through to your local office, be persistent. No one likes having to wait on the phone for hours or trying over and over again, but when it comes down to the core of the matter, unemployment offices are flooded and simply busier than they’ve ever been. Call or try to visit your state unemployment website. Note all of the details of your claim as you make progress. This includes the date and time of calling, waiting, the person spoken with, screenshots of live chat, and any evidence that helps you collect benefits backdated to when you first tried filing. Denied claims can be appealed, but we highly recommend seeking out the advice of a legal aid advocate. Most will help you at a minimal cost while some even offer assistance for free during this time. If you’re struggling, phone a local political official and express how the process is failing. You’ll get results. Don’t give up until you’re remunerated fairly.
Apply for unemployment benefits
Each individual will have to file for unemployment benefits from the state in which they currently reside. Here’s a link to the government list of state unemployment insurance contacts so that you can find out more information about the requirements and payout specific to your area.
Stay compliant to receive benefits
Every state has different eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits but here’s a list of what you can expect to provide at a minimum to retain weekly eligibility:
- File your claims either weekly or biweekly
- Ensure that you are both able to work and available to work
- Report your weekly earnings (if any)
- Cite any job offers received or declined for the week
- Report to the claims office when required, on time
- Register for job-seeking at the State Employment Service
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
If you’ve already received a full set of unemployment benefits but fulfill State eligibility criteria, you are still eligible for “Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.” This will give you up to another thirteen weeks of benefits, with an additional Pandemic Unemployment Assistance equivalent to $600 running until July 31st, 2020.
Reasons for unemployment benefit denial
Each State has different qualifying criteria for unemployment but if you have already ascertained that you meet the minimums, then here are a few common reasons for denial:
- Making false statements to purposely obtain benefit payments fraudulently
- Leaving work voluntarily without a valid reason
- Losing your job as a result of misconduct
- Refusing or not being available to work
- Not actively seeking out employment
- Refusing suitable employment
Appealing unemployment denials
If you file for unemployment benefits and you’re unrightfully denied, then it’s important to appeal quickly. Some states will have a separate application form, while others will give your application a second look before you need to file a formal appeal. It all depends on your local state unemployment office’s most current protocols and guidelines. For the best chance of success in the case of a formal appeal, go with professional litigation services. As mentioned, some are even free to help citizens cope with unfair denials during this time of the pandemic.
Considering gigging or freelancing
Freelancing and gigging are both excellent ways to make either a side-line income or a permanent career if you’re driven and so inclined. There has never been a better time to look for remote work, so explore talent marketplaces, gig sites, and other per-gig work available in your locality. Any skill or service that you can deliver digitally can be turned into a thriving income. MyOpportunity gives you a platform to connect with prospective employers for part time or full time conventional employment, online work, gigs, and business networking with those that are an ideal match to your needs and interests. There are lots of different approaches to chasing down work online, so pick one or two and focus your efforts. Revamp your resume & portfolio and put yourself out there.
Claim your benefits and keep on innovating
Remember, by receiving your unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation or other COVID-19 government approved funding, you’re not only helping yourself but the economy as well. If your income has been compromised in any way and you can prove it, then apply for unemployment insurance benefits. You’re helping the nation. Once you’ve successfully filed for benefits, you need to continue filing each week (or every two weeks depending on your state) to continue receiving them. Use your stimulus check wisely, and don’t forget to put some of your income towards career growth. You’ll thank yourself later, and come out prosperous because of it.