In late December, President Donald Trump signed a bill sent to him by the U.S. Congress creating a $900 billion stimulus package to deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic downturn. This is the second stimulus bill passed in response to COVID-19, following the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed earlier in 2020. Among other provisions — such as individual stimulus checks and more Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses — the bill includes a boost to unemployment designed to help those who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19. The unemployment program isn’t terribly complicated, but it is worth understanding exactly how it works. If you’re looking to protect your savings during this uncertain economic period, consider finding a financial advisor.
Second Stimulus Package Unemployment Benefits Basics
The most important unemployment provision in the new bill is a $300 federal booster to all unemployed people for 11 weeks. This $300 is on top of any state-level unemployment benefits a person is eligible for. This is similar to the federal unemployment booster that was part of the CARES Act, though that one was for $600 — many of the programs for this stimulus program are significantly smaller than those in the CARES Act, including the personal second stimulus check, where the maximum value was cut from $1,200 to $600.
Two programs from the CARES Act are also being extended. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) guarantees unemployment to self-employed workers, independent contractors and freelancers whose work is impacted by the crisis. The original program lasted for 39 weeks, and the new bill extends it by 13 weeks.
The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation has also been extended. This program provides an extra 13 weeks of coverage to people who have used up all of their state unemployment.
Second Stimulus Package Unemployment Benefits: How to Apply
There is no direct application for these federal unemployment programs. All unemployment programs are still run by the state you live and/or work in. If you have specific questions about making sure you are getting all of the federal benefits you are entitled to, speak with someone at the state agency.
The $300 federal boosted payments should begin immediately. There was some concern that because Trump delayed signing the bill for a few days because of issues he had with the $600 stimulus checks the payments would be delayed, but it is currently thought that all unemployed Americans will get their checks as scheduled with the $300 addition.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve lost your job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible for a $300 federal booster to your unemployment for 11 weeks. This is less than the $600 booster that was given out earlier in 2020, but still not nothing for those impacted by the crisis.
Tips for Weathering the COVID-19 Economic Downturn
- If you are looking for someone to help protect your wealth, consider working with a financial advisor. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool connects you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors, get started now.
- When your job situation changes, so does your bottom line. Consider working out a budget to make sure you aren’t spending more than you are bringing in while times are tough.
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