CARES Act: Impact on Unemployment Compensation


Title II of the CARES Act is captioned Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses, and its Subtitle A expands the nation’s Unemployment Insurance system in three significant ways for those who are out of work due to COVID-19.

1. Expanded Eligibility

The CARES Act extends eligibility for unemployment payments to categories of workers previously not covered: the self-employed, independent contractors, “gig economy” workers, those with insufficient work history to qualify for unemployment benefits, and those who have already exhausted all rights to regular unemployment compensation.

2. Expanded Duration

The maximum period for receipt of benefits is increased to 39 weeks, up from the usual 26.

3. Expanded Benefit Amount

The law increases the weekly benefit amount by $600 per week for the period from the passage of CARES through July 31, 2020 (approximately four months).

These expanded benefits apply to any unemployment or partial unemployment caused by COVID-19 during the period January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. 

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