By Jay L. Morse and Jack F. Petroskey

The CARES Act allowed states to enter into agreements with the federal government that provide enhanced benefits under their existing unemployment programs. Under these programs, in addition to existing unemployment compensation, qualifying individuals receive $600 per week of “Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation” through July 31, 2020. This provision means that for some workers, their compensation under the federal-state program will actually be more than their previous income. Notably, this section requires that states entering into the enhanced programs waive the one-week waiting period normally applicable to benefits to make compensation immediately available.

States can also enter into agreements with the federal government that would fund an additional 13 weeks of unemployment for individuals who remain unemployed after their state unemployment benefits have run out. These additional weeks are available through the end of the year and are subject to some additional requirements. In most states, unemployed workers can receive 26 weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits. Thus, the CARES Act increases every state’s period for receiving unemployment benefits to 39 weeks. However, it is important to note that the $600 per week expansion in benefits will only last through July 31, 2020. After that date, a person on unemployment benefits will receive whatever benefits they normally would receive from their state.

“Partially Unemployed” individuals are also eligible to receive unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. It’s not entirely clear who qualifies as “partially unemployed”, but it appears that a person who suffers a severe cut to their hours can still receive $600 a week in unemployment benefits.

For more information about unemployment, please contact Kemp Klein Law Firm.