Who Can Get Unemployment Benefits?

Due to the disease-induced recession, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed on March 27 in order to ease the rising unemployment rate. To see if you're qualified for the new, expanded unemployment eligibility, here is everything you need to know.

Who Is Eligible For Unemployment During This Tough Time?

There are 6 different groups of people who are eligible for the situation, including:

1. "Workers laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19"

The group refers to those who are unable to work because of having the disease or being in self-isolation as they may have it. Besides, those who can't go to their workplaces due to isolation restrictions and those who can't work due to workplace closures are eligible for unemployment too. 

2. "Workers who quit due to COVID-19"

Usually, those who quit their jobs are not eligible for unemployment, but under the new law, workers who did so as a direct result of the disease are eligible for expanded unemployment. 

3. "Workers caring for children or other dependents at home"

If you are forced to stay at home to take care of a family member or other member of your household who has the disease, you may be eligible for unemployment, even if your workplace still opens. The situation includes caring for a child who can't attend school due to the school closures, or someone of your household can't attend certain facilities due to their closures. 

4. "Self-employed workers unable to work due to COVID-19"

Unlike many other occasions, self-employed workers are now included in the expanded unemployment qualification. To be more specific, self-employed workers who are unable to work due to the disease are eligible for claiming benefits.

5. "Workers scheduled to begin employment but cannot due to COVID-19"

Unlike the usual case that you have to prove you lost a job by demonstrating certain earnings before, CARES Act allows those who were originally scheduled to start a job but cannot do so due to the situation to claim unemployment benefits. 

6. "Primary breadwinners because the head of household died from COVID-19"

If the head of household died due to the disease and those who weren't working before have to become the primary breadwinner because of it, they may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Who Is Not Eligible For Unemployment During This Tough Time?

There are 5 groups of people who don't fit in the unemployment situation, including:

1. "Workers who can work remotely"

You don't fit in unemployment if you are able to work from home and continue to receive a regular paycheck from employers. Yet you are eligible if your workplaces temporarily or permanently close due to the current situation.

2. "Workers who are on paid sick or family leave"

Usually, those who are on paid sick or family leave are still getting paid by employers, so they don't fit the eligibility. However, if you can't return to work after your paid sick or family leave runs out, you can apply for unemployment.

3. "Workers who quit their jobs for other reasons but COVID-19"

If you quit your job for other reasons that are not directly caused by the disease, such as personal preference, you are not eligible for unemployment.

4. "Individuals who don't have jobs or plan to have one"

If you weren't working before this specific situation began, and you didn't have any plan to start a job, you are not eligible for unemployment unless the head of household died due to the situation discussed above. 

5. "Individuals who find new employment"

You must stop claiming unemployment benefits once you find a new job during this specific situation. However, if you lose it again due to the disease or your employers ask you to leave due to no reason of your own, you may claim the benefits again. 

How To Apply For Unemployment?

Start the unemployment application process by visiting the unemployment website of your state. Do prepare necessary information when you apply, including:

  • your Social Security Number/Alien Registration Number

  • your mailing address, the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all employers - you worked for during the last 18 months

  • the first and last dates you worked for each place

You will receive a notice via mail explaining everything once you submit the application, such as how much benefit you can get, and how long they can last.

What to do when you are not eligible for unemployment?

For those who unfortunately don't meet the qualifications, don't worry, you still have other options. You can go check CARES Act about the stimulus checks information and see if you can get any assistance there; seek out new, temporary employment; rely on personal savings; or maybe talk with your bank, credit card issuers, landlords, and utility companies, and see if they can offer any help during the tough time.