- REUTERS/Tom Brenner
- The new $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week will allow people to claim an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits for up to four months.
- In January, the average unemployment-insurance check was $385 per week.
- A record 6.6 million people filed jobless claims in the week ending March 28.
- The bill also makes self-employed and contract workers – who typically do not qualify for these benefits – eligible for unemployment benefits for up to 39 weeks.
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The new $2.2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last week will allow people to receive an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits for up to four months – on top of the amount they get from the state.
That’s a significant boost from the average weekly unemployment-insurance check, which was $385 in January.
The relief package also lets self-employed and contract workers, who typically aren’t eligible, to get up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits via the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
The US has already seen a historic number of people applying for unemployment benefits as the pandemic results in mass layoffs. A record 6.6 million people filed for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 28, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That broke the prior week’s record of nearly 3.3 million, which, in turn, had far outstripped the record of almost 700,000 newly filed claims set in 1982. As of April 1, The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that nearly 20 million total jobs could be lost by the summer due to the pandemic.
The bill also created a $500 billion pool to help struggling companies, with $367 allotted to small businesses. The package also gives up to $150 billion in loans to state and local governments and $100 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers. For individuals, the package includes direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of up to $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child under 17.
The $2.2 trillion stimulus package is the latest expansion of unemployment benefits in response to the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 18, Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which expanded unemployment benefits and gave grants to states for processing and paying unemployment claims.
The federal government also issued guidance to states to allow more flexibility with granting unemployment benefits to employees who can’t go to work because their workplace was shut down, workers who are quarantined, and those who leave work because of a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
How to get the extra $600 in unemployment benefits
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to file for unemployment benefits if you’re unable to work during the coronavirus pandemic. There’s no separate application to get the additional $600.
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia told The Wall Street Journal that federal funds to boost the payments by $600 would be distributed to states this week, but he didn’t know when states would make disburse those extra payments.
If you’ve already applied for unemployment, you don’t need to apply again. The unemployment checks should be automatically updated with the higher amount, according to the Journal.