NEW YORK – As July 31, 2020 draws near, unemployed individuals are anxious over the end of the additional six hundred dollars ($600.00) pandemic unemployment compensation which is given in addition to regular state unemployment benefits. As most people know, when the pandemic hit the United States and parts of the country went on pause to stay home and save lives, the loss of jobs and of income was one of the expected consequences. In response to that, the Corona Virus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was passed on March 27, 2020 providing among others, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, pandemic unemployment assistance and pandemic unemployment compensation. In New York city alone, there has been a 400% increase in unemployment claims.
Despite such high level of initial claims, there remains a segment of the community who are unaware that they may be eligible for these benefits, particularly those who experienced death in the family due to COVID-19 and those who immediately assume they are ineligible and who do not know where to go to seek help. The following questions and answers seek to address that by providing helpful guidance:
Q. What is pandemic unemployment compensation?
A. Simply put, it is the additional six hundred dollars ($600.00) qualified individuals receive as part of the pandemic assistance scheduled to end on July 31, 2020 as provided under the CARES ACT.
Q. Who are qualified to receive pandemic unemployment compensation?
A. There are several groups eligible to receive pandemic unemployment compensation:
- Those who were previously not eligible to receive regular unemployment benefits but who are now qualified to receive pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act. This refers to self-employed, freelancers, independent contractors, waiters, nannies, cab drivers, gig workers or with insufficient work history and affected by COVID-19. It goes without saying that a valid Social Security number is required to apply for pandemic unemployment benefits. Individuals in this category will receive the pandemic unemployment compensations of $600 in addition to the pandemic unemployment assistance;
- Those who are traditionally qualified to receive state unemployment insurance benefits. Simply put, this refers to those who receive a W-2 form (Wage and Tax Statement) at the end of the year as traditional employees and who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Individuals under this category will also receive the pandemic unemployment compensation of $600 in addition to their regular unemployment insurance benefits;
- Other categories include the following:
• Became the major breadwinner because head of household died from COVID-19;
• Member of household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Providing care for family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
• Primary caregiver for child unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19;
• Quit job as a direct result of COVID-19;
• Place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19;
• Unable to reach place of employment due to an imposed quarantine or because advised by medical provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
• Scheduled to commence new employment and cannot reach workplace as direct result of COVID-19;
Q. How do I apply for pandemic unemployment benefits?
A. The best way to apply is online. The required weekly certification is also done online.
For New Jersey residents: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/
For New York residents: https://uihp2.labor.ny.gov/
Q. Should I still apply even if the pandemic unemployment compensation is set to expire on July 30?
A. Yes. If you apply now, you have a hundred percent chance of getting it but if you don’t apply you have a zero percent chance. It will be determined from the time of the actual date of eligibility so you may still receive the benefits computed from the time that you were eligible for the same. Besides, even if it is set to expire on July 30 and there may be a gap in time before a new law is passed, Congress can also address that in the legislation while the pandemic unemployment assistance and the regular unemployment insurance benefits will continue in place at least for the remaining twenty six (26) weeks plus the additional thirteen (13) for a total of thirty nine (39) weeks.
Q. What if I get denied?
A. In New York, a notice of determination is mailed to the applicant explaining the denial and there is a thirty (30) day period from the date of the letter within which to request a hearing. The request for a hearing can be done online from the applicant’s account or by mailing the claimant request for a hearing form.
Disclaimer: This does not constitute legal advice and should be used solely for information. No attorney-client relationship is formed in reading this article.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lara Gregory, Esq. is a practicing attorney in New York for over fifteen (15) years who channeled her legal skills and training to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the non-profit group Legal Good, she has been providing helpful information about unemployment benefits, moratorium on evictions, real property tax programs and immigration, with the aim of building community one legal good at a time. For questions and inquiries, go to the Facebook page of Legal Good – https://www.facebook.com/LegalGoodNY/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org