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All About The Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Updated : August 4th, 2020

families first coronavirus response act

In a speedy display of rare bipartisanship, Congress voted to get The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and President Trump signed it into law, passed on March 18. The law brings welcome relief to states in need of funds to pay unemployment insurance to claimants. It commits $1 billion to cover the costs of processing and paying UI as well as 100% federal funding for Extended Benefits. 

Also referred to as H.R. 6201, the law details provisions for paid sick leave to workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or caring for family members who may have the disease. There are certain requirements, which states must meet to get the funding. There are also welcome measures that look into other complementary aspects of combating this global pandemic.

What Are The Unemployment-Related  Provisions?

This section of the overall act has been called the Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access Act of 2020. The biggest breather comes from the provision of $1 billion as emergency grants to states for the processing and payment of unemployment insurance benefits.

There is also a $500 million additional fund for staffing, technology requirements, systems, and other administrative costs. To obtain this $500 million assistance, the states have to:

  • Make it mandatory for employers to notify the laid-off employees about potential UI eligibility
  • Provide two ways to apply for UI by phone, in person or online
  • Keep applicants informed about the status of their application- whether or not its being processed and how to improve the success rate of processing

States which experience at least a 10% increase in unemployment may receive emergency grants worth $500 million. This is over the aforementioned provision. These states would be required to:

  • temporarily ease eligibility requirements such as work search and waiting period so that more people can access UI
  • increase employer UI taxes if they layoff too many workers
  • Ease UI restrictions which are a part of federal law

The Families-First Coronavirus Response Act enables states to get access to interest-free advances to meet unemployment-related needs until Dec 31, 2020.

The law also anticipates that the Extended Benefits program will be needed with the unemployment rate likely to rise over 10%. Hence funding for Extended

Benefits will totally be federal whereas 50% of funding would come from states at other times.

States which offer work-sharing programs can get assistance from the Secretary of Labor. This enables workers to get reduced pay instead of layoff. Employers opting for this plan get some incentives and assistance.

What Should You Do To Get Unemployment Compensation?

You can read all about how to collect unemployment benefits if you got laid off due to the Coronavirus pandemic here.

Most states have waived the waiting period, work search requirements and allowed part-time workers and the self-employed to file for unemployment benefits. If eligible you will receive your Determination Letter.

The new law does not require claimants to do anything outside of the ordinary application process to claim unemployment insurance benefits. 

It is best to file claims online as most states have a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications. There will be delays if you try phone filing or in-person visits.

What Can A Worker Expect From The Families First Coronavirus Response Act?

  • Governments and private businesses with fewer than 500 employees have to provide up to two weeks of paid sick leave at the regular wage rate if anyone contracts COVID-19
  • Those employees staying away to care for a sick family member or a child out of school are entitled to the same but at two-thirds of the regular wage rate
  • Sick workers also get an additional 10 weeks off at two-thirds of the regular wage rate
  • Companies with fewer than 50 employees will be exempted from these rules if they risk going out of business due to closure

What Are The Other Helpful Provisions Of This Law?

The fight against the Coronavirus pandemic requires a multi-pronged approach. Hence the Families First Coronavirus Response Act addresses various other requirements.

Healthcare Clauses

  • Health Insurance coverage at no cost to the customer for COVID-19 diagnostic testing under both private plans and Medicaid.
  • States can extend Medicaid eligibility to cover uninsured populations.
  • Medicaid will cover beneficiary cost-sharing for healthcare practitioner visits that order the test.
  • Personal Respiratory Protective Devices will be covered as countermeasures against COVID-19
  • Enhanced Medicaid funding
  • National Disaster Medical System will be able to reimburse the cost of diagnostic testing for SARS-Cov19 of insured individuals with a grant of $1bn

Food and Nutrition clauses

  •  $250 million for the Senior Nutrition Program which will supply about 25 million additional home-delivered, pre-packaged meals to low-income seniors.
  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program gets $300 million to buy nutritious food and $100 million to supply and distribute it.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children gets $500 million so that laid-off low-income pregnant women and mothers and their children get food.
  • Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) of food assistance to households with children who get meals in school and aren’t now due to COVID-19 shutdowns
  • No work requirements for “food stamp” program

What Is the Path Forward for The United States?

The Families First Act is a welcome beginning but will need to be expanded to cover various groups who will be left to fend for themselves. As of now, employers with over 500 employees do not have to provide paid leave. This includes workers in banks, grocery chains, etc. who come into contact with hundreds of people daily.

The vast majority of people will be left without protection from the financial hit of getting laid-off. Many applicants do not qualify for unemployment benefits due to having inadequate hours or wages. Further easing of restrictions is necessary.

Many states had cut unemployment staff and benefits on the back of good economic growth over the past couple of years. Twenty-three states had inadequate unemployment trust funds, though the new act should address this.

The technological capabilities will need to be scaled up largely to deal with the massive surge in UI applications as well as other forms of assistance. With so many people having to say home, there is also a shortage of manpower to provide state essential services. States have plans to employ workers to meet this requirement.

The Coronavirus Response Act has addressed all the different war fronts along which this pandemic will have to be fought with allocations for disaster response, food, Medicaid and veteran care, etc. As the situation evolves the US will have to prepare itself to deal with whatever this new world order will dish out.

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  1. I had trouble getting my proof of self-employment to upload in secure file exchange and finally got it submitted by 12:06 am , 6 minutes late. What are the possibilities that they will deny it? I have received unemployment from March 2020 to some of Jan and some in Feb 2021. Most of Dec, Jan, Feb, March, & april were stopped for this proof of employment.
    Also, I see proof of Income as a 2nd issue but it is always on there. That was not on my TO DO list.
    I feel for u all on ID.ME…

    Anyone trying to reach UI, call their number, press 2 or 3 (questions abt filing a claim?) and then wait thru the message. At the end of it, u will be connected to a live person! I promise.. don’t push another button.. I’ve done it 4 times and it never failed.

    We lost our home, my ex took my child…. (kept her after a visit and called cps facilitating drama while the cops wouldn’t give her back without paperwork locked up in the court house..shut down for covid) I raised her by myself for 12 years & now she is with a violent alcoholic and parental alienating parent .. ….my dog, my 9-year sweet little best friend, was attacked, passing away 3 days later.. all in this time frame.
    But! It will all be ok. I have faith.

    Be grateful for your life and all that is in it today. What u dwell on daily will be your strength or weakness.
    Good luck to all of u.
    And thank you, Jeff, for responding out here. It is appreciated!
    Davulia S.

  2. I filed over two months ago. I have not received any information. My status says “pending resolution”. I have no way of contacting anyone. My position was eliminated at my job and I submitted the documentations online. I dont know what else I can do.

  3. I have been apply Ohio Pua unemployment since July 5th still pending issues. Upload what they ask for when ever I call says your case is in Adjudication. Very very frustrated, financially I am broke. Health issues. Waiting a long period.Don’t know what I will do ?

    1. Nafisa,

      I can understand your situation. There will be a delay considering the number of applications that are being processed. Please continue chasing the office/check your status online at regular intervals until payments normalize.

    2. Same here since Feb 2021 turned in all the documents still pending issues 3 months now. When you call they tell you to be patient. Pulling my hair out it’s so frustrating.

  4. I was receiving PUA unemployment. they made me file for a new claim in February. Now I am in adjudication even though I gave all the same information from my previous claim. Have been adjudication since February and I call and they say they will put in a ticket to have an Adjudicator call me. Nothing. I am wondering If I can go down to to Maryland Unemployment Office and demand that someone talk with me to release my claim for payment. It’s been 56 days. I read that they have a maximum of 45 days.

    1. Luis,

      Your adjudicator may be inundated with pending cases. Please continue to follow up (if you have the contact details) or consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

    2. t sounds just like mine only im disqualified yet actie every till sept 4th . they haven’t asked me for anything! i file then its disqualified yet im told im ok and have nothing to do bit wait for an answer? answer to what? they switched my program and all and asked me to provide proof for a claim that wa denied al eady back in 2018! deny me once and then again perhaps? lol idk

  5. My mom had unemployment in Florida. She just recently moved temporally to California with a sister since she needs assistance, and now the website is telling her she cannot do anything because she is register in another state. Can she keep filing unemployment in Florida, even if she is living and register now in another state? how is the process to change the unemployment? I tried calling and there is no answer. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie,

      Please ask your mother to consider transferring the UI benefits from FL to CA (details will be available on either of the websites). If there are benefits weeks left in the account, she will be able to claim them.

    1. Leatha,

      UI benefits are offered to claimants who lose employment involuntarily and be able to and available for work.

  6. I lived in ga in 2019 and move to florida in 2020 and work for the xmas months in nov-dec. I was told to do a combine wage claim. my question is which state do i file the claim in?

  7. I filed for pua in Ohio back in October 2020.My claim has been in ajudacatuon since 11/1/20.So 2 to 6 weeks is a total understatement! When I call.i am told to basically hurry up and wait some more.I have recently been redetermined and my claim is allowed.but I have one pending issue.How long is too long?

    1. Nicole,

      Unfortunately, nobody has an answer. There are perhaps thousands of pending applications. Please consider the option of visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible.

  8. If you claim your weeks for unemployment and for the next 2 months you still have not received your money. Where can you go in volusia county to talk with a live person

      1. HI Jeff,
        I applied back in Dec 5th, 2020 and I haven’t received any correspondence, is there a local office that I can make an appt to make certain my claim is right.

        1. Adam,

          You can consider visiting an office in the vicinity if safe and feasible (details will be available on the Unemployment Office’s website).

  9. On NYS DOL website, my claim is saying current yet the information is for my old claim with 0 days remaining despite receiving 2 weeks of payments on the new claim and I was able to certify last night. I haven’t received anything; no letters or emails.

  10. I was disqualified for UI benefits for not providing an ID and other forms of identification. How do I fix this?

        1. Gary,

          You may not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

    1. Hi Mike, I’m in NYS and was at the end of my BYE on 3/14, I was still certifying but wasn’t getting paid. I found out I had to file a new claim because my other was exhausted. I’m still waiting on approval. Maybe you have to file a new claim. I hope this helps.

  11. They say 2-6 weeks it’s more accurate to say 2-6 months; and when you call many of them are rude and unwilling to assist!

  12. someone needs to look into Sharon L. Anton gillette, wyo. or dickinson, nd she is a fraud and has done so many fraudulent things and please look into her

    1. Annette,

      Please report it to the Fraud Division of the Unemployment Office in your state. You can report on the website.

  13. I worked part time for thee years here in florida. I’m currently not working. I’m also retired and collects social security.
    My question is
    Am I qualified to file for unemployment ?

    1. Ruby,

      To be eligible, you’re required to have sufficient hours and earnings. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website.

  14. So adjudication takes 8 to 12 weeks. Oh okay, that explains why I havent received payment since July. That surely helps just like the rest of the information that you give. And by the way. What’s the NEW reason you can’t get through to the Call Center.

    1. Maria,
      I have gotten through to the call center (live agent) every time i’ve tried calling within the last 2 weeks. The number to a live agent (follow the prompts carefully) is (667)-207-6520. i have gotten through within 10 to 15 mins with each call i had made!

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