Evolving unemployment benefits information

Here’s what we know about unemployment benefits now

Washington State has more generous unemployment benefits than many states.  In addition, the new CARES Act both covers workers usually not covered and adds an additional $600 to each payment through the end of July 2020. Check out this helpful Q&A on unemployment claims during the pandemic.  Their answers cover gig workers, parttime workers and many of the ways COVID-19 is disrupting employment. That includes options for people with COVID-19, as well as people who care for someone with the virus or cannot work because your children’s schools are closed.

While benefits are more generous, the Employment Security Department is inundated with claims and struggling to process them quickly. It’s best to sign up for their COVID-19 updates.

What about the federal COVID-19 CARES Act?

We know less about how the federal CARES Act will be implemented because it passed just a few days ago. But here’s what the Employment Security Department advises:

“There are a few big changes under this legislation:

  • Eligibility for unemployment benefits is expanded to include many Washingtonians currently not eligible, including many self-employed people and those that don’t have the typically required 680 hours.
  • An additional $600 per week will be available to everyone on unemployment through July 31, 2020.
  • Benefits will be extended by 13 weeks, to a total of 39 (which is about nine months). This includes people who were already on unemployment as well as those who are newly eligible.”

The department provides more details at the bottom of their COVID-19 Information page. They ask that if you only qualify under CARES that you wait to file your claim. Ensure that you file as soon as possible by signing up for COVID-19 updates.

While it’s great to have resources to help us make it through this time, it is confusing. Download this chart that clarifies state worker benefits.