The new Coronavirus unemployment insurance is adding beneficiaries. The unemployment insurance programs from the US Department of Labor provide benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own and who meet other eligibility requirements.
The unemployment insurance is a joint federal-state program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.
Editor’s note: The special benefits granted to citizens by the federal government to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic ended on September 6, 2021. This decision affected more than 8 million unemployed throughout the country.
Although these special benefits have ended, it is still possible to apply to receive the regular unemployment benefit, as it existed before the pandemic. To do this, each state has its own rules and requirements.
Am I eligible? Can I apply for unemployment insurance?
Each state sets its own eligibility guidelines for unemployment insurance benefits, but generally you qualify if:
- You are unemployed through no fault of your own. In most states, this means that you must have separated from your last job due to a lack of available work.
- Meet job and salary requirements. You must meet your state’s requirements for wages earned or time worked during a set period of time called the “base period.” (In most states, this is usually the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the time the claim is filed.)
- Meet any additional state requirements. Check your state requirements.
How do I apply for unemployment insurance?
To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you must file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked.. Depending on the state, claims can be filed in person, over the phone, or online.
You must contact the program unemployment insurance from your state as soon as possible after you become unemployed.
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As usual, you must file your claim in the state where you worked. If you worked in a different state than the one you currently live in, or if you worked in multiple states, the unemployment insurance agency in the state where you currently live can provide you with information on how to file your claim in other states.
When you file a claim, you will be asked for certain information, such as addresses and dates of your previous employment. To ensure that your claim is not delayed, please ensure that you provide complete and correct information.
It usually takes two to three weeks after you apply to receive your first benefit check.
NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program for your state’s rules.
Federal law allows significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law provides flexibility for states to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from going to work
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
Additionally, federal law does not require an employee to resign in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.