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How To Collect Unemployment Benefits If Coronavirus Has Cost You Your Job

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Collect Coronavirus unemployment benefits

Those facing the heat of the Coronavirus outbreak with respect to job losses can now breathe easier since several states across the US are expanding unemployment insurance eligibility to deal with the fallout. We will tell you all about how you can collect unemployment benefits if Coronavirus-induced slowdown has gotten you laid off. Remember that you must file claims for UI benefits immediately upon being separated from work.

Claiming Unemployment Insurance 

The American Unemployment Insurance Program is meant to help tide you over a no-fault layoff, while you look for new employment. Taxes paid by your former employers finance the program. The present slowdown is an instance of the very reason for the institution of UI, to sustain consumer demand and help revive the economy.

Upon successful processing of your unemployment insurance application, you receive a weekly benefit, beginning two weeks later (now one week). The weekly benefit amount and the maximum amount you can get are calculated based on the wages earned by you during the base period, over the previous year. The Base period is the period of employment before the job loss.

Usually, Unemployment Insurance is provided by the states for 26 weeks from the date of effective application. In states where the unemployment situation has worsened enormously, there is a permanent Extended Benefits (EB) program, which gives an additional 13 or 20 weeks of compensation to jobless workers after their regular benefits are exhausted.

When Can You Claim Unemployment Benefits

Different states have slightly different eligibility criteria. But, the essential condition to be satisfied for unemployment insurance eligibility is that you have lost your job DUE TO NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN. Those who quit their jobs are not eligible unless there were extenuating circumstances (determined with a hearing) and all efforts made to resolve the same.

Second, you have to satisfy monetary eligibility requirements. You should have earned a threshold amount during the base period, which differs slightly across states.

Third, you must maintain your eligibility by fulfilling the following conditions:

  • Be physically able to work throughout the benefit week period
  • Be available to work.
  • Be ready to accept the work offered to you
  • Be actively seeking job opportunities

Some of these criteria have been modified to help people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. One can file for Extended Benefits once the regular benefits run out.

What Are The Changes To Unemployment Compensation Rules

Unemployment Insurance claims can now be filed if:

  • An employer is forced to stop operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and thus other workers need to be isolated or quarantined
  • An employer is forced to shut down offices temporarily due non-availability of work to assign. 
  • Working hours are reduced due to business slowdown or loss of production, resulting in a wage drop.
  • A firm goes out of business due to the coronavirus disease.

Individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits provided they meet the monetary criteria and weekly eligibility criteria. Most state governors have made the following relaxations:

  • Workers who have a return date to their employment, within eight weeks of the temporary layoff, are exempted from the active search for new job opportunities. This is referred to as standby.
  • Waiving of the requirement of being able to and available for work for claimants affected by the Coronavirus.
  • Under normal circumstances, part-time employment is not considered for UI eligibility, but now standby is available to part-timers. You should have worked 680 hours at least in your base year, and you should have a date of an anticipated return to employment.
  • Waiving of the one-week waiting period post-acceptance of UI application as well as training requirements. 
  • UI filing deadlines are being extended for employers and workers. As UI works on a weekly cycle, make sure you file it within the week preceding the one from when you will start getting the payments.

Unemployment insurance coronavirus

Some states like Mississippi are yet to do so.

What To Do If You Fall Ill Or Have To Provide Care

As COVID-19 is now a national emergency, some rules have been put in place to help those contracting it. All states have issued clarifications about claiming Unemployment Insurance

If you have contracted COVID-19 and are too sick to work or be available for work, you won’t be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. Still, you may avail Paid Family & Medical Leave or Disability Insurance (DI). The waiting period has been waived or them all.

You can claim UI once you have recovered and can work.

You cannot claim UI benefits if you refuse the remote work option provided by the employer. It is only meant for those who are without pay due to layoffs. If you get paid leave, you will not be eligible for UI benefits.

If a health professional has asked you to self-quarantine due to Coronavirus exposure and your employer has refused paid sick leave, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance. If you are a caregiver for a family member with the condition and are unable to work, you can avail Paid Family Leave (PFL). You won’t receive Paid Leave and UI together, however.

How To File Claim For Unemployment Insurance If Coronavirus Has Caused A Job Loss

To apply for Unemployment Insurance if Coronavirus outbreak has caused you a job loss, you can visit your state’s Labor Department website or call the authorized Claims Center. In some states, the point of contact is the American Jobs Center. Online applications can be submitted at any time, with no waiting time.

You will need to have the following information ready to submit:

  1. Social security number
  2. Name, Birthdate and Contact Information
  3. Names, dates worked for, and mailing addresses of employers you worked for over your base period or 18 months. 
  4. Citizen status /work Authorization
  5. Account or Routing Numbers of your bank or union for Direct Deposit
  6. SF-8 for federal employees
  7. DD-214 form for ex-military people
  8. Name and number of the union for those who find work as part of one

You will then receive an Unemployment Claim Determination Letter that will tell you if your application has been accepted and your weekly benefit amount. After you apply for unemployment benefits, submit a weekly claim for every week you require benefits. Your weekly claim only covers the prior week. If you fail to do so, you will stop receiving benefits.

Job search requirements will be exempted during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, you will have to provide proof of a quarantine request from a healthcare practitioner. Verification of illness and shutdowns may be conducted by contacting your employers.

How COVID-19 Is Threatening Your Job

The COVID 19 outbreak has caused a lot of panics as the disease has been spreading rapidly with nearly 4000 infected cases and over a dozen deaths, statistics spiking through the day. As the disease spreads via droplet infection and is highly contagious, the US has directed firms to shut down and provide remote work wherever applicable and possible. However, several industries have been facing losses and have resorted to laying off workers, just over the last week. 

Sectors like Food and Beverages, Travel and Tourism, Event Management depend on regular footfall for their sustenance and are the first ones forced to lay employees off. Airlines, hotels, etc. are likely to be the worst affected as flights and events like festivals are being canceled. Gig workers, entry-level employees, and casual workers are at the greatest risk. With many companies placing hiring freezes and other moving interviews online, finding a new job will prove tremendously difficult.

Several small businesses based on services and niche commodities are being hit by the trickle-down effect of job losses, as people can no longer afford to buy from them. The stock market has also been on a steady downslide, reflecting the increased threat to jobs in the finance sector.

Jobs involving global supply chains have been among the first to be affected. Truckers, wholesalers and warehouse workers, etc. are receiving diminished to no pay as exports globally are no longer coming, and some ships have been quarantined. Due to the large scale industrial slowdown in China, supply chains based there are seeing downstream effects in the US.

The full impact is yet to be understood. Coming on the back of strong job growth in the preceding months, these hits are affecting morale. It is vital to claim any assistance that you are eligible for at this time, especially if you don’t have savings enough to tide over 3 months of living expenses. Keep up with the guidelines released by your state to claim unemployment insurance if Coronavirus threatens your job security.

 

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