Editor’s Note: This information is accurate as of today, 4/28/2020. These policies are continuing to evolve at the federal level, as well as at the state levels, and they may change, so please check back here on the MomsRising blog regularly for updated information.
MomsRising was joined by experts from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), National Employment Law Project (NELP), Food Research and Action Council (FRAC), and National Immigration Law Center (NILC), for an online webinar to discuss the nuts and bolts about what you need to know to apply for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. We discussed the new COVID-19 programs just passed by Congress, including paid sick days/paid family leave, unemployment insurance, nutrition assistance, and the impacts of these programs on immigrant families.
You can find the full video here:
Check out the slides from the various presentations:
**MomsRising wants to hear from YOU about how you and your community have been impacted by the coronavirus. Share your thoughts and story with us here: https://action.momsrising.org/survey/CoronavirusStories/
Please check out these additional resources for key information on COVID-19 support programs for you and your family.
Go here to find your state unemployment office, where you will need to go to apply for benefits: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#find-state-unemployment-insurance-contacts
- NELP’s Resource Page for COVID-19 Unemployed and Frontline Workers
- Department of Labor’s FAQ and Resources
Paid Sick Leave and Sick Days:
Economic Impact Payments/Direct Payments Checks:
- National Center for Lesbian Rights FAQ on Economic Impact Payments
- National Consumer Law Center’s FAQ On Direct Payments
- New York Times FAQ on Stimulus Package
Small Business Resources:
- Main Street Alliance Webinar with Home Care and Child Care Providers in English and in Spanish
- Small Business Majority Daily Update Page—this includes a number of webinars in English and Spanish
More resources on workplace rights:
- The Center for WorkLife Law is offering a free legal helpline for workers nationwide who have questions about their workplace rights related to coronavirus. Helpline callers can connect with attorneys to receive information about how to protect their incomes, health benefits, and jobs while taking care of their families and their health during the COVID-19 crisis.
- New York Times Coronavirus Tips and Advice
We received many questions during the webinar that we were unable to address during the actual event. We will do our best to answer these questions and update this section as we receive new information. If you have additional questions, please leave them in the comments.
Q: How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?
A: To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by telephone, or online.
- You should contact your state's unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed.
- Generally, you should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states.
- When you file a claim, you will be asked for certain information, such as addresses and dates of your former employment. To make sure your claim is not delayed, be sure to give complete and correct information.
- Find the contact information for your state's unemployment office to start your claim.
More information here: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#how-do-i-apply
Q: Prior to the pandemic I was on unemployment insurance and I am about to exhaust my benefits. What is available to me?
A: Under the CARES Act states are permitted to extend unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks under the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. PEUC benefits are available for weeks of unemployment beginning after your state implements the new program and ending with weeks of unemployment ending on or before December 31, 2020. The program covers most individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular unemployment compensation under state or federal law and who are able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work as defined by state law. Importantly, the CARES Act gives states flexibility in determining whether you are “actively seeking work” if you are unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restrictions.
In addition, if you have exhausted the 13 weeks of additional benefits available under the PEUC program, you may be eligible to continue receiving benefits under the PUA program. PUA benefits are available for a period of unemployment of up to 39 weeks, meaning that if you have exhausted regular UC and PEUC benefits in fewer than 39 weeks, you may be eligible to receive assistance under PUA for the remaining weeks within PUA’s 39 week period.
Q: Am I able to get Unemployment Insurance if my pay was cut?
A: Probably. Every state has some kind of partial coverage that allows unemployment insurance to replace part of your pay if hours are reduced. But the amount replaced varies quite a bit by state.
Q: Is Unemployment Insurance taxed?
A: If you received unemployment compensation during the year, you should receive Form 1099-G, showing the amount you were paid. Any unemployment compensation received must be included in your income.
Q: I live in FL, but I'm staying with my sister in GA for a couple of months until this blows over. Should I file in FL or GA?
A: You should file for unemployment insurance in the state you last worked in – they will have your work records.
Q: Is there a minimum someone needs to have earned in the previous year in order to get unemployment insurance?
A: For regular UI there is, but that is not the case for the new PUA. Workers failing minimum monetary eligibility should apply for PUA benefits.
Q: Do independent contractors eventually have to repay unemployment, since as I understand it, we are not paying into that program when we pay taxes?
A: Unemployment benefits – any of them – are taxed as regular wages. So if you get a benefit, keep some aside to be safe at tax time.
Q: If I’m receiving the $600/week is this considered earned income next year?
Q: I only started working 3 weeks before the pandemic started. What will they base my Unemployment Insurance on?
A: You should apply for PUA – all you should need to do to get the minimum benefit is establish connection to the workforce and then you will get the minimum weekly benefit plus $600 if approved.
Paid Leave/Sick Days:
Q: Can a worker take FMLA expansion, sick leave and then partial unemployment?
A: If a worker is unable to work (or telework) because they are caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable:
- A worker should first request emergency paid sick leave (to cover the first 10 days that are unpaid in emergency FMLA) and then request emergency FMLA from their employer. If they exhaust their 12 weeks of emergency FMLA, they should first see if their employer will provide any accommodations. If their employer is unable or unwilling to do this, they can check with their state to see if qualify for Unemployment Insurance.
- If a worker is unable to work (or telework) because they are experiencing or caring for an individual experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or seeking a medical diagnosis, subject to a government-mandated quarantine or isolation order:
- A worker should request 10 days of emergency paid sick days from their employer. Once they exhaust their emergency paid sick days, they should first see if their employer will provide any accommodations. If their employer is unable or unwilling to do this, they can check with their state to see if qualify for Unemployment Insurance.
Q: Am I eligible to take paid leave or paid sick days if the company I’m working for is filing for bankruptcy or going out of business soon?
A: According to the US Department of Labor, if your employer closes while you are on paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, your employer must pay for any paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave you used before the employer closed. As of the date your employer closes your worksite, you are no longer entitled to paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, but you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.