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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  1. I was fired through no fault of my own in the state of NJ. I was hired to help build an apparel startup. Hired for coming from a corporate background, I would make my professional suggestions on how to improve and develop product as that type of information was always welcomed but unfortunately not utilized. During my time, I’ve repeatedly tried to help the company to avoid costly mistakes in the future when it came to producing apparel, yet my boss preferred to always “wing it” change direction and never follow any type of calendared process. Fast forward and to no surprise to me there is an issue with production and I’m informed with vague information and so as a professional, I remind the owners (again) of the proper protocol that I’ve been suggesting and believing that they finally understood this now. But the understanding was an awakening that was too late (as it seems). Therefore a week later, I was fired as a cut in finances, With no severance, I ask for a confirmation on days worked in order to claim for unemployment due to the financial reduction but then am emailed that due to my decision making that the company lost thousands of dollars and that I didn’t perform my job. I continued to apply for my claim and was denied with allegations that in addition to losing thousands of dollars that I now stole candy (of all things) from the company under footage which is false, and that I watched movies on my phone which was also a false claim. The adjudication office has reached out to me to give me 2 days to reply against the ridiculous allegations and I have replied to all her points of accusations. I had also added more information which I regret now because I was a bit emotional because of the low blows that came my way. Nevertheless, the email had been sent and I am now waiting to see the next steps.
    My question is this. In the state of NJ, what are the next steps for determination?
    Will my former employer read my comments which will only add fuel to the fire (which is true on the additional emotional writing) and then create more lies?
    Have employers gotten away with denying claims by creating false claims?
    This is not what I had expected nor planned to rebuttal in an adjudication.
    I only wanted unemployment pay while I continue to look for work.

  2. I went on medical leave in 2016. I had 2 years of approved leave with pay and benefits. Over the past 2 years, I continued on medical. In May of 2018 my employer tried to terminate for refusing to follow the company doctor’s recommendation to return to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. I was never informed of where to report or when to report for work. I didn’t even know of the attempted termination until I didn’t receive my bi-weekly payment. I filed a greviance to get my job, pay, and benefits back and was awarded a temporary re-instatement until I had a third party doctor exam. During all of this, I reached my 2 year limit on pay and benefits. Once the 3rd party medical exam was done, the doctor sided with me that there were health reasons for not restoring me to my previous position. But he also agreed with my employer’s company doctor offer of returning to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. My employer informed me at that time they had no jobs available for me. Since I no longer receive pay or benefits I filed for unemployment. The state said that my employer objected to my request for umeployment on the grounds that I’m weeking fulltime for them and now it has been 6 weeks pending adjudication. I receive no pay no benefits and was told I don’t have a job from my employer. How can they hold up my unemployment pay?

    1. Gil,

      Thank you for writing to us. The outcome of the adjudication depends on the paperwork/documents you submit supporting your stance. Please make sure to prepare well and argue confidently in your favor.

  3. I live in the state of Nevada and had filed for unemployment a few months back in June and was denied because of not earning enough funds in that quarter which show that I’m trying to open a claim on a previous claim considered double dipping. I was told that if I worked and made $1,200 then that would be enough to fulfill and be approved for unemployment claim for the new quarter. I did work a new job started the job as a project assistant for a plumbing company to which the hiring manager knew I had never worked in plumbing but had over 20 years in construction. All in all I worked really hard to understand the plumbing industry but I could never satisfy my supervisors expectations and the last week of me working she basically took ball work from me and kept saying she will handle it even though I would ask every hour or less if there is something that I could do, she kept denying me any work because she was frustrated that I couldn’t do the job is good as she did even though she’s been there for 30 years. I was receiving unemployment funds for the past 3 weeks and suddenly I have to wait till November 2nd for an adjudication meeting and my funds have been placed on hold until then. Can my claim be denied because I could not do the job she expected even though she hired me knowing my previous experience? What should I expect now?

    1. Brooke,

      There is a thin line. It can go against your since expectations were not met or it can also be in your favor for unreasonable demands from your supervisor. If you think you have a strong case, make sure to argue well and present all supporting paperwork.

  4. The state of Oregon UI told my spouse every claim that isn’t due to lack of work now goes through adjudication! Is that true or are they just saying that because she ‘resigned en leiu of termination’ in her trial period? She worked for the state, and didn’t want to be unable to find employment in another department.

    1. Ambrose,

      I don’t know if this is true. How can you confirm? By calling the office again and asking for a different representative to speak to.

    2. Yes, this is true, Oregon will adjudicate any “employment separation” that isn’t due to a lack of work. FYI they’ll also treat a resignation in lieu of termination as her being fired because if your wife’s employer told her “quit or you’ll be fired”, she didn’t really have much of a choice and she was going to lose her job either way.

  5. I was terminated while on Workers Comp. The employer didn’t call me, I was notified a month after the fact by the insurance carrier for the employer! And get this,,,When I opened my UI case to start benefit payments, I notated in the questionnaire that I have a lifting restriction imposed by the Doctor but that I can still physically work and I’m currently available to work….and I was denied UI benefits.
    I’m appealing.

    1. Will,

      I think you should be eligible to collect UI benefits under such circumstances. Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy to support your stance during the Appeal.

  6. I’m currently appealing an availability issue in Massachusetts. I was accepted to a local community college never enrolled and because at the time when I applied I stated I was accepted they denied me. I was laid off due to lack of work it was a temporary position on August 3, 2018. My previous employer I was with 2+years, however I did quit that job which I’m sure doesn’t help my claim, however I’ve submitted everything from my most recent employer including wages which redetermined me eligible. Now I’m appealing my availability… I’ve contacted the college to get verification letter stating I’m not enrolled nor have I ever been but due to their protocols they fought me tooth and nail to get this verification. Stating there’s nothing to send if I’ve never been so there. Last week they finally sent a certified seal enrollment letter that shows I am inactive and never enrolled or registered within that institution. I think it was to stop me from constantly contacting them. Will this help remove the availability disqualification? Also are availability cases easier to resolve?

    1. Lily,

      To offer a straightforward answer to your question, if you lost the previous job due to involuntary reasons (no fault of yours), you should be eligible to collect.

      1. So I just got my Late Appeal decision after sending in all necessary information as to why I was filing late pertaining to being offered a temporary job. The decision states DETERMINED.

        Not exactly sure what that implies. I’m assuming the worst though. Since no adjudicator ever called me. Can you please clarify?

        1. Lily,

          I suggest you call the Claims Center to find out the status. It more or less means the “Determination” process is now complete.

      2. UPDATE: I called the claims center to clarify the adjudicator’s decision they stated that it means I found eligible for the Late Appeal regarding my availability. The representative also stated that its very strange to be appealing a one party decision ( thus meaning appealing just myself.) Will I still have to continue with this hearing since my enrollment verification proves with a certified seal inactivity and no enrollment has ever been made? Are availability appeals easier to win since its not a wage or reason for termination I am appealing?

        1. Lily,

          This seems like a complicated situation. I suggest you ring up the adjudicator and consult him/her on further steps.

  7. my adjutication was removed and my case still says that im eligble and active does that mean the ruled in my favor ?

    1. Jeannette,

      That is correct. The authorities might have ruled in your favor and ruled out the need for an adjudication. Please call the office for clarification.

  8. After working at various jobs over the course of 24 years and never being fired,I finally was recently. The reason was arguing with a manager because she was unprofessional and baited me into a argument and I signed the statement she wrote against me before I left and now I wonder will the unemployment official side in my favor over me signing the statement..

    1. Jason,

      If you’re able to prove your position preferably with supporting documents, you should be able to collect UI benefits.

  9. Can you be denied unemployment after being terminated for allegedly making a customers grocery bags too heavy. Customer made a complaint that I packed her bags too heavy. When I had only put 4-6 items in each bag. This occurred while I worked for Meijer.

    1. That sounds like an awful reason to terminate employment. Please consider applying for UI benefits until you find employment. You may want to speak to the Unemployment Office in your state once before applying. Please call them.

  10. I moved to NC for a Job the employer begged for me to work for him. The job is 1 hour away. I got sick one day driving there and went to work and told the girl I was working with that I was sick and may need to go home so I call the the staffing lady and the own and told them I’m sick and I’m going home they said OK. Next day get a text saying I’m off for the next 2 think they could not find anyone to work with me see my tech went on vacation. When my tech came back from vacation they told her she will be working alone she sent me the text I was shocked because now it’s two weeks with out work I’m a fulltime worked get a w2 at the end of the year. I work the own stating what is going on why you not having me work I said I will have to file unemployment no response. Umployment told them I walked off the job when the all said I called them when I was leaving stating I was sick and they sent Umployment the call off work text they sent me its been 6 weeks and no amswer on my unemployment case help if you can

    1. Lace,

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. If you think this was the case, please consider filing until you find employment. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  11. I filed for unemployment in florida but then moved to Georgia, after I was unable to obtain a job in Florida. I was hired at amazon in Florida but have already moved to Georgia and receiving unemployment at the time. The unemployment is now adjudicating because it picked up that I was a new hire at Amazon but I Couldn’t work for Amazon seeing how I moved out of Florida before I was hired. It has now been eight weeks of claiming with a hold on my funds what will happen next?

    1. Ernest,

      If you still remain unemployed, you should be able to continue claiming UI benefits. Since you’ve moved to Georgia, you can consider transferring your claim over to the new state.

  12. I worked a 3 yr contract with an employment firm. That contract ended unexpectantly and I filed unemployment. The employer called me with 2 jobs. one of the jobs was at the company that I just left and the company had a 6-month wait and I was unsure if I could return to the company. I expressed this to the employer and they said that they would check to see if I could return to the employer. I was trying to avoid rejection/embarrassment for myself and the employer. I was submitted for 2 jobs.

    The employer filed a protest saying I had refused work. I spoke with the adjudicator. (Who called me a day earlier than our call) It turns out two jobs that of the two jobs they said I had refused. they had submitted me for one and the other was the job aforementioned. the employer never got back in touch with me and I eventually applied for the job.

    The adjudicator told me that I would receive two letters in the mail in 5 -7 business days and told me to keep certifying.

    Any idea where this is landing. The employer did not tell the truth and I sent documented information to our phone call. The adjudicator said that they had cancellations and that was why he was calling a day early.

    Any ramifications for the employer not telling the truth.

    1. It’s the time to make a strong case for yourself. Chase the adjudicator at regular intervals and submit the required documents in your support.

  13. I finally got the courage to do this as I now get Social Security but I doubt things have changed. Years ago when I was working I had a sales job and they did all sorts of sexist crap. They would not pay the spiffs to females. They called you names over the intercom. They would break things on products ordered and picked up by customers. People knew about it but would not come forth. When you saw something illegal going on that you were not supposed to see, you got fired. The employer lied about you to the DES and they even lied to future employers so that you never had respect once you worked at their place. The so called judges as your hearings admonished you for speaking out but there was nothing to be done unless others backed you up and they were afraid for their jobs. This still goes on. For the most part it is women judges doing the bidding of male employers. Some of these women should be asking themselves questions about the lives of others they were complicit in destroying. There never was any recourse for sexual harassment and discrimination and there still is not. Have any of these female judges ever thought to require further proofs from the employers. Has any judge ever compelled the employer to proof of sales or production exceeded by the women who have been fired? That would be the most telling. When other situations arise and the female employee has been with the company for more than five years, have any of these judges had the sense to ask if the person lasted with you that long and their last evaluation was superior enough to merit a raise, why do you all of a sudden doubt the employee? There is no common sense to these horrible women and they are there as judges because of their stupidity. The system is geared to protect only the rights of the employer so don’t be down on yourselves if you find yourself a victim because if the employer loses then you have a case! DES judges are paid to destroy people.

  14. Please contact me I’m going to be homeless loose vehicle they are holding my unemployment and I don’t know why I’ve been doing everything and more I’m a cancer patient and have to get to my therapy today I can’t go cause my trucks out of gas and no money

    1. Jerome,

      Hope you get out of this situation soon. Please let us know how we can help you. This is a private forum and our help can be limited. If you’re referring to Unemployment Insurance, please call the Claims Center for further inquiry.

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