COVID-19 has left many people unable to work. Some people have been unable to work because they are sick, caring for others who are sick, or quarantined after possible exposure to the virus. Others have been unable to work because of the school closures associated with the outbreak.
Many others have been unable to work because companies have been forced to close or limit their operations. In California, for example, only businesses determined to be essential (such as food banks, farmer’s markets, gas stations, plumbers, electricians, public transportation services, etc.) are allowed to operate. The businesses who do not fit under the essential category have been forced to either transfer to remote work or let their employees go.
Have you been laid off because of COVID-19? If you lost your job because of the coronavirus, consider your options:
The Sudden Loss of Work Can Create Financial Difficulties
A sudden loss of work can be devastating, especially for those who live paycheck to paycheck. Even those who have some savings, in case of emergency, can quickly find themselves short on funds. Without a source of income, affected parties can quickly find themselves in debt (specifically after resorting to loans and credit cards for quick funds) and unable to provide for themselves and their families.
You Can File for Unemployment Benefits
The individuals who lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 outbreak can be eligible to receive unemployment benefits from the Employment Development Department (EDD). Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a program that provides those who lose their jobs with weekly income until they get another job (or until the maximum benefit period is met). Only those who meet certain requirements are eligible for UI benefits.
These initial eligibility requirements include the following:
- Be actively looking for work
- Be available to work
- Be both willing and ready to accept work immediately
- Be either totally or partially unemployed
- Be physical able to work
- Be unemployed through no fault of your own
If your claim is approved, you will need to continue meeting most of the requirements above on a weekly basis. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, some exceptions have been made. For instance, those certifying for unemployment insurance benefits do not have to be actively looking for work every week.
Based on changes in policy, more people than ever can be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. Business owners, independent contractors, self-employed parties, and parties who have maxed-out their UI benefits can still receive benefits. This is due to the CARES Act, which created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program to supplement regular state unemployment programs.
How Long Can You Receive Unemployment Benefits?
When you file an unemployment claim, your claim will be valid for one year. However, you can only receive benefits from 12 to 26 weeks. The specific number of weeks that you can receive benefits will be based on your total earnings during the base period (12 months) used to determine your eligibility. In some cases, benefits could be extended. Under the CARES Act, the PUA program could provide up to 39 weeks of benefits for eligible individuals; this program is still being developed by the state.
The Process of Applying for Unemployment Benefits
The process of applying for unemployment insurance benefits is simple. You simply need to have information on your past employers and your past wages.
So, how do you apply? Typically, unemployed individuals can apply for unemployment benefits one of three ways: (1) over the phone, (2) by mail, or (3) online. Because of office closures and delays in mail-processing, the EDD recommends that affected individuals apply online. Provide the requested information and submit your application. Within a few days, you should get a confirmation that your unemployment insurance claim has been filed. After your claim is initially approved, you will need to certify for benefits – which means that you will need to verify that you still meet the requirements. After being verified for benefits, you will receive your funds.
Find Help If You Need It
For some, the process of applying for unemployment benefits can be difficult. However, there are many resources available to affected individuals. The EDD has many resources online, which even include video tutorials on applying for benefits. The EDD also has resources on the PUA program, which is soon to be developed by the employment agency.
Although these are difficult times, you are not alone. Our employment experts are ready to evaluate your current situation and guide you towards the right path. For more information, contact us today.