Thursday, April 02, 2020

“Unemployment on Steroids”: Cares Act Extends Unemployment Coverage to Independent Contractors and Provides an Additional $600 to Individuals Receiving NYS Benefits

In response to many workers losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19, the federal government is providing unemployment insurance assistance in addition to what is currently offered by the States. Some members of Congress aptly referred to the new law as “unemployment on steroids.” The law provides the following additional unemployment insurance benefits:
  • Extends eligibility to independent contractors, individuals who are self-employed, or cannot work (individuals who can telework are not covered) for a reason directly related to COVID-19. In order to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ("PUA"), you must first apply and be determined ineligible to receive New York State unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Provides an additional $600 a week to all individuals receiving State unemployment insurance benefits. In New York State, if you are receiving the minimum benefits, the maximum benefits ($504 per week) or somewhere in between, you will receive an additional $600 per week. The federal benefits are retroactive to January 27, 2020 and expires on July 31, 2020. It is unclear from the information currently available whether you are entitled to the additional $600 if you are receiving partial unemployment benefits from New York State (hours/salary are reduced by employer).
  • Provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits (NYS currently offers 26 weeks of unemployment benefits).

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