What You Need to Know About Filing for Unemployment

What You Need to Know About Filing for Unemployment

unemployment
(Image: iStock/JLGutierrez)

Every day, the number of American’s who apply for unemployment increases. To date, nearly 22 million people have filed for unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the massive number of layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts, more American’s qualify for the unemployment benefits than before. Over the last month, the government has made exceptions about who can apply for assistance. And there’s a wealth of information that people need to know when filing for unemployment.

As millions of Americans apply, there have been countless reports about federal and state website crashes due to the number of people filing online. Wait times on the phone are longer than ever. And, people some people do not have all of the information on hand that they need to apply for benefits. All of that factors into when people can actually receive money.

In a recent CNBC article, Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit research firm, explained what people need to know when filing for unemployment and the common mistakes made.

And when asked the question as to who should apply during this pandemic, the response was, everyone who lost their job due to no fault of their own because of the coronavirus. That means if you have experienced a reduction of work hours you qualify for unemployment, too.

“In this particular period in history, getting an unemployment check isn’t good just for you, but it’s good for the local economy, and it’s an important public health measure,” Evermore told CNBC. “People need to take these benefits and not be making ends meet by going out to work.”

Due to the pandemic, part-time workers are now eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of COVID-19.

If you qualify for PUA, your benefit rate will be based on your recent earnings. You can also receive an additional $600 per week until July 31, 2020.

To date, not every state has rolled out its PUA program, which has resulted in some people being denied unemployment benefits. If you have been denied, you might be eligible to apply for the PUA program once it is instated.

If you have applied for unemployment and have been denied, you can appeal the decision. But know it is important to be detailed when applying and appealing for benefits. Check your state’s requirements for proper documentation.

And if you’ve had to quit your job due to the pandemic but still wish to seek assistance, Edgar Ndjatou, executive director at Workplace Fairness, a nonprofit advocacy organization told CNBC, “If you quit because of COVID-19, not just because you’re afraid of the virus necessarily but if, for example, your child’s school was closed or you had to care for a family member who got sick, you have to be clear about that.”

Filing for unemployment is not as simple as it seems. When applying, check your local and state government’s websites for updated information. Click here to read about the common mistakes made when filing.

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