The US unemployment insurance system was designed to motivate people to find work during a recession. However, it isn’t the same when a pandemic is making everyone stay at home.
After the Social Security Act of 1935, the unemployment insurance benefit had become a nationwide aid in the USA and had helped countless individuals during financial hardships in times of recession and market crashes. The US Department of Labor announced a staggering 3.3 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the wake of the epidemic. The department stated that it had never seen such a large number of claims in its entire history.
With severe lockdowns in place, coupled with hiring freezes in all industries, the US economy has come to a standstill. Countless people have been laid off due to businesses being shuttered. In order to tackle this situation, the US Senate will pass the historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package on Friday, 27th March 2020.
Michele Evermore of the National Employment Law Project announced that unemployment insurance is the fastest way to safeguard people’s financial condition. The $2 trillion package is expected to increase aid significantly to millions of Americans as it provides a valuable backstop for working families.
The program comes with three sections:
- Section 2104 which provides individuals benefits of $600 per week extending till July 31st, 2020.
- Section 2012 under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance to those who are ineligible for regular unemployment compensation (mostly self-employed people or those who have exhausted their regular benefits).
- Section 2017, which provides monetary relief for 13 weeks to those who remain unemployed after they have exhausted their benefits or are not eligible for benefits.
So, how does one qualify for unemployment insurance benefit? Given the unprecedented number of claims that the government has received, it is important to recognize valid claims against those that seek to take advantage of the situation. Given below are the various cases that make you eligible for the program.
- If you’re someone whose job has been directly impacted due to the coronavirus outbreak, you are eligible for the unemployment assistance program.
- If you lost your job before the outbreak but are now unable to find a new job because of the lockdown, you are eligible for the program.
- If you are still employed but are working from home, then you are not eligible for the unemployment assistance program.
No matter the situation, make sure you are not misrepresenting your condition and filing a fraudulent claim as it will lead to you being cut off from the program indefinitely. If you manage to find work whether it’s a full-time opportunity or a freelancing gig, make sure to notify the authorities.
The unemployment assistance initiative is a joint program between individual state governments and the federal government, therefore, contact your local authorities to find out the specifications with the program in your area.