CARES Act Unemployment FAQ
Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses
Unemployment Insurance Provisions
The CARES Act enacts certain new unemployment insurance provisions, referred to as the “Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act.” (Section 2101)
Who can use pandemic unemployment assistance?
Pandemic unemployment assistance is available to workers who are currently ineligible or have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment or extended benefits under state, federal, or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation and who provide self-certification of their ability and availability to work as follows:
Covered individuals must self-certify:
- They are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except the individual is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because:
- The individual meets any additional criteria established by the secretary for unemployment assistance under this section; or
- The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
- The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19;
- The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID–19;
- The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
- A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
- The individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The individual is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under state or federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation meets the requirements of subsection 1 (above). (Section 2102(a)(3))
Who does not qualify for pandemic unemployment assistance?
Pandemic unemployment assistance does not apply to: (i) an individual who has the ability to telework with pay or (ii) an individual who is receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, regardless of whether the individual meets a qualification described in the certification requirements above. (Section 2102(a)(3))
What period does this law cover?
Unemployment assistance is available to covered individuals for those weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by COVID-19 beginning on or after Jan. 27, 2020 and ending on or before Dec. 31, 2020. (Section 2102(c)(1)(A))
What is the maximum number of weeks unemployment assistance is available to a covered individual?
Subject to the Dec. 31, 2020 expiration date, unemployment assistance may continue for as long as an individual’s unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work is caused by COVID-19. However, the total number of weeks for which a covered individual may receive assistance shall not exceed 39 weeks, and such total shall include any week for which the covered individual receives regular compensation or extended benefits under any federal or state law If the duration of extended benefits is extended after the enactment of this Act, the 39-week period shall be extended by the applicable number of weeks. (Section 2102(c)(1)(B) & (C))
What is the weekly benefit amount?
The amount of pandemic unemployment assistance authorized for a week of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work is:
- The weekly benefit amount authorized under the unemployment compensation law of the state where the covered individual was employed (except the amount may not be less than the minimum weekly benefit amount described in section 625.6 of title 20, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor thereto) PLUS the amount of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (discussed below, which is an additional $600). (Section 2102(d)(1))
What is the weekly benefit amount for self-employed individuals, residents of U.S. territories, or individuals who would not otherwise qualify for unemployment under state law?
The assistance authorized for a week of unemployment shall be calculated in accordance with section 625.5 of title 20, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor thereto, and shall be increased by the amount of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (outlined below, which is an additional amount of $600). (Section 2102(d)(2))
How are the benefit payments made?
Assistance will be paid: (1) in conjunction with and at the same time as payment of any state provided benefits or (2) at the option of the state, by separate payments made on the same weekly basis as any state benefit payment. (Section 2102(d)(3))
Is there a waiting period?
No. Notwithstanding state law, for purposes of assistance authorized by this Act, compensation will be paid without any waiting period. (Section 2105)
What is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation?
Any state may enter into an agreement with the Secretary of Labor that the state will make payments of regular compensation to individuals in amounts and to the extent they would under state law with respect to any week for which the individual is otherwise entitled under state law to receive regular compensation, as if such state law had been modified in a manner such that the amount of regular compensation (including dependents’ allowances) payable for any week shall be equal to: (A) the amount determined under state law PLUS, (B) an additional amount of $600 (“Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation”). (Section 2104)
What happens to individuals who make fraudulent claims or receive overpayments?
If an individual knowingly makes or causes someone else to make a false statement of material fact, or failed to disclose a material fact, and as a result of such false statement or nondisclosure the individual receives Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to which the individual is not entitled, such individual will be ineligible for further Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and may be subject to prosecution. Overpayments of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation are subject to repayment. (Section 2104(f))
What relief is available for individuals who have already exhausted their state or federal unemployment benefits?
Individuals who are able and available to work but have already exhausted their state or federal benefits may receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for any week of total unemployment in the amount of the individual’s regular compensation under state law for a week of total unemployment PLUS the amount of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. The maximum benefit for these individuals is 13 weeks, and individuals must be able to show that they are actively looking for work. (Section 2107)