What’s New in Unemployment Benefits?

Posted on: March 18, 2021
The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Updated as of 3/16/2021

March 2021 changes to Unemployment Benefits

On March 11, 2021, the President signed the American Rescue Plan Act. This Act has extended the COVID-19 unemployment programs including the $300 added weekly to most unemployment checks. Most rules regarding these plans remain the same, but here is a quick outline of changes.

Has Pandemic Unemployment Assistance been extended?

Yes. This program was enacted on March 27, 2020. The program will now remain in effect until the week ending on Saturday, September 4, 2021 giving claimants up to 79 weeks of benefits.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may become available after September 4, 2021.

What if I ran out of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits before March 13, 2021?

If you met the requirements but ran out of weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you will be able to claim additional benefits. But you will not be able to receive any back payments for weeks before the week ending on March 20, 2021.

What if I never filed for Unemployment Compensation until recently, but have been unemployed due to COVID-19 before March 13, 2021. Can I receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for earlier weeks?

Maybe. If you are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you may only receive back payments as far as December 1, 2020 if you have just filed for this program.

Has Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation been extended?

Yes. The program will now remain in effect until the week ending on Saturday, September 4, 2021 for up to 53 weeks of benefits.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may be available after September 4, 2021.

What if I exhausted my Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits before March 13, 2021?

If you met the requirements but ran out of weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, you will be able to claim additional weeks now. But you will not be able to receive any back payments for weeks before March 20, 2021.

But if you were unemployed due to a recognized Covid-19 related reason for weeks before March 20, 2021 you may be able to qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as discussed above above. The agency may switch you to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but only for these exhausted weeks.

What is a COVID-19 related reason?

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis;
  • member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for whom you are responsible for is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 and this makes you unable to work;
  • You are unable to reach your workplace because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • You are unable to reach your workplace because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • You were scheduled to begin employment and do not have a job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19;
  • You have become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19, and/or
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • If you refuse to return to work that is unsafe due to COVID-19.
  • If you refuse to accept a job offer or new work that is unsafe due to COVID-19
  • If you provide services or work for educational institutions or educational agencies, but do not have a contract or a guaranteed return date with the educational employer.
  • If you are currently employed, but:
    • Your hours at work have been reduced, OR
    • You are temporarily laid off from your job, OR
    • You are permanently laid off from your job.

Other reasons might be recognized depending on your situation. It is important to remember that the unemployment agency should review each claim on an individual basis.

Has Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation been extended?

Yes. This program adds $300 in weekly benefits to people’s unemployment benefits. The program now runs until September 4, 2021.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may be available after September 4, 2021.

Other important information:

It is always important that after your apply for unemployment compensation, you keep filing your weekly certifications to confirm your unemployment status and report your 3 required weekly work searches.

Even if you are not receiving any payments, it is important to keep filing. This confirms that you remain unemployed or are short on hours of work due to COVID-19. Once the agency determines you are eligible for benefits, you will receive payments for all weeks that you have successfully filed a weekly certification.

Failure to file weekly certification was sometimes excused in the summer and fall of 2020 last year, but now failure to do this may keep your benefits from continuing.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.

If you are having problems and need legal assistance, you can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information.

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