UPDATE – New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

UPDATE – April 18th, 2020 – California will start accepting Unemployment Applications for self employed and gig workers starting April 28th according to the EDD website. Here is the link to view additional details.

California has created a new page with information about the New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance information for self employed individuals. This is a brand new program that was part of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ) recently passed by Congress.

The page can be viewed here.

I have some serious concerns about the way this program is being rolled out. For one, it has not been rolled out yet and as more time goes by I am becoming more and more concerned that this is going to turn out to benefit large companies more than it helps true self employed workers.

For example, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia has used his authority to limit who qualifies for unemployment insurance and has made it easier for small businesses not to pay family leave benefits. Also the new rules make it more difficult for gig workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers to receive benefits, while making it easier for some companies to avoid paying their workers coronavirus-related sick and family leave.

New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia is starting to receive blowback from both sides of the isle. Sen. Lindsay O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Thursday in an interview that he has talked to Scalia about the need to speed things up.

“You could have massive civil unrest if these systems cannot get checks out the door. We’re talking about 20 percent unemployment, maybe even more,” Graham said. “The application process is a nightmare. The state systems are failing.”

Graham said that Scalia has been responsive, but, “I don’t see any action being taken.

Regarding Gig workers such as Lyft drivers, new Labor Department guidance says unemployment benefits apply only if workers are “forced to suspend operations,” which could drastically limit options for those workers if their apps are still operating.

The additional guidance provided by the Labor Department says a worker “may be able to return to his or her place of employment within two weeks” of quarantining, and parents forced to stop work to care for kids after schools closed are not eligible for unemployment after the school year is over.

In addition workers who stay home because they are older or in a high rick group are not eligible unless they can provide proof from a medical professional they were advised to stop working.

Also some states are having a hard time determining how to verify how much money self-employed workers typically earn. Unemployment offices don’t usually have access to tax documents.

The more and more you learn about the additional details and guidance being provided by the Labor Department the more you realize that businesses and corporations are the ones being looked out for while workers continue to take what is leftover….

Important items to note about the New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program are the following.

The program is designed to help business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state Unemployment Insurance benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of Covid-19.

Once the program is up and running the following will be the benefits for individuals,

  • Up to 39 weeks of benefits. The program will be retroactive to February 2, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The timeline depends on when you became directly impacted by the pandemic.
  • An additional $600 weekly benefit to each individual. This additional benefit is available “Only the weeks of a claim between March 29 and July 31.

Who is eligible?

  • Business owners
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Independent contractors

Individuals who may have qualified for regular UI benefits but have collected all benefits for which they are eligible.

Also note that you have to be legally permitted to work in the United States to receive benefits.

You must also meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • You are unable to work because a health care provider advised you to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • A 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 been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • A child or other person in the household for whom you have primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 and the school or facility care is required for you to work.
  • You became the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You have to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You were scheduled to start a job that is now unavailable as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • You are unable to reach the place of employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • If you work as an independent contractor with reportable income, you may also qualify for PUA benefits if you are unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work because the COVID-19 public health emergency has severely limited your ability to continue performing your customary work activities, and has thereby forced you to stop working.

Keep checking your state EDD website for important New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Updates.

As for when you should file a claim. The EDD is sorting that out as we speak. They said that they are working with partners to get the application process up and running ASAP but there is no firm date as of now.

They do have a statement on their page saying that you can file an UI claim through the normal process and that they will sort out the category to put you in. That might be a good option to consider because it might get you in line sooner.

The entire world has come to a screeching halt and it’s incredible how much has changed in such a short time. The question is when will we get back to a normal routine and how normal will that be compared to what we had just a few weeks ago?

Filed Under : New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Updates : Covid-19 Updates

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