As reported by cnet,

Lawmakers continue negotiation on a bill to extend benefits. 

Angela Lang/CNET

A pair of stimulus bills totaling $908 billion presented by congressional Democrats and Republicans on Monday would include an extension of unemployment benefits before they expire on Dec. 31 instead of a second stimulus check. The larger, $748 billion part of the package extends the weekly unemployment bonus established under the CARES Act from March, providing 16 weeks of $300 weekly bonus payments for unemployed workers, essentially lasting through April. 

The second bill, amounting to $160 billion, contains two contentious provisions: aid for local and statement governments and a liability shield for businesses. Even if that portion of the bill didn’t pass, the federal unemployment bonus still could.

In fact, the hope, said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, is for a COVID-19 relief package to piggyback on the bill that keeps the government funded. “We’re not leaving here without a COVID package. It’s not gonna happen,” he added.

Here’s where the situation with weekly federal unemployment insurance stands, who could qualify, how your state could handle the bonus and more. This story is updated often with new information.

Read moreCoronavirus unemployment: Who is covered, how to apply and how much it pays

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What happens if the bill passes with $300 per week in unemployment insurance?

For millions of unemployed workers, Dec. 26 is the last check they’ll receive as benefits created by the CARES Act in March are set to expire on Dec. 31. 

If the $748 billion bill passes Congress and becomes law, the new $300 weekly bonus checks would make their way out, but there is no indication that they will be retroactively applied. This means there won’t be a lump sum payment to make up for previous weeks of not receiving a $300 check. 

When those $300 checks will be sent out depends on how quickly the states can turn around and send out the money. The federal government is funding these payments, but it’s the states who actually process the funds. Timing will vary when considering that states approved for the weekly $300 Lost Wages Assistance back in August took weeks or months to process payments. 

What happens if more unemployment insurance doesn’t pass?

According to a Dec. 3 report by the New York Times, without a new stimulus bill to extend the programs established by the CARES Act:

  • 7 million gig workers and contractors will lose Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • 5 million people who lost their jobs will run out of unemployment checks 
  • Several million Americans will face evictions 
  • Approximately 21 million people will need to start making student loan payments 
  • 125,000 companies will lose tax incentives to not lay off workers
  • $150 billion of aid to state and local government will expire 

The $748 billion package, if passed, would continue the unemployment benefits, provide one more month of eviction moratorium, an extension of student loan deferments until April and extending the tax incentives for businesses. Aid for state and local governments would need to come via the second $160 billion bill, which also includes the liability protection for companies. 


Tens of millions of Americans face dire financial straits.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Who could qualify for another $300 unemployment check?

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’re eligible to apply for unemployment benefits from the state where you live. Once the state approves your claim, you can apply to receive whatever state benefits you’re entitled to. Because states cover 30% to 50% of a person’s wages, there’s no one lump sum you could get nationally. 

When the CARES Act passed in March, it provided unemployed workers with a weekly bonus check of $600 on top of the amount the state was offering, but those payments ended in July. President Trump’s executive memo signed on Aug. 8 reinstated a bonus weekly check for a reduced $300 funded by the federal government through FEMA. These were only offered for six weeks to those states who applied, which were all of them except for South Dakota. 

The CARES Act also created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to individuals who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits from the states, such as gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and small business owners whose income has been affected by the pandemic. Those receiving PUA would also receive the $300 bonus. Under the CARES Act, PUA funding will be available until Dec. 31 but for many, their last payment will be on Dec. 26. 


For millions of Americans, time is running out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How are unemployment benefits calculated?

The state determines how much each applicant receives, usually based on an individual’s gross income. It varies from state to state but is typically between $300 and $600. 

How can I find out if I qualify for state unemployment benefits?

Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but the general rule is that you should apply if you’ve lost your job or been furloughed through no fault of your own. This would include a job lost directly or indirectly because of the pandemic. 

How are different states handling unemployment insurance?

Again, the benefit duration and amount vary. Most states provide up to 26 weeks of funding, though others, such as Georgia, limited benefits to 12 weeks. On the other hand, Delaware extended benefits for up to 30 weeks. The weekly benefit amount depends on an applicant’s gross income when they were employed and ranges between $300 and $600, with some exceptions. Mississippi had paid up to $235, while Massachusetts’ maximum has been $1,220. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation from the CARES Act added an additional 13 weeks funded by the federal government, but another stimulus bill with unemployment insurance would need to pass in order to extend it further. 

Where can I get more details about my state’s policy?

Each state’s labor office provides information about its particular unemployment benefits.

Source link: cnet


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