Everything you need to know about the unemployment benefits under the stimulus deal
Many changes to unemployment benefits come after Congress passed a $ 900 billion coronavirus stimulus package Monday night and the president is expected to sign the law this week.
Unemployed Americans will soon be getting an additional $ 300 a week on top of their benefits while key unemployment programs are extended so people can stay in benefits longer. Some overpayments will be waived and some workers may receive an additional $ 100 on top of the $ 300 per week.
"Honestly, this is a huge step forward," Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. "There are a lot of things that could have been better, but I think if you ask someone who is unemployed and is willing to lose it all, that's good."
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Around $ 120 billion of the $ 900 billion legislation will pour into the unemployment system, according to the Federal Responsible Budget Committee. Everything you need to know is here.
The extra $ 300
Unemployed Americans will receive an additional $ 300 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for 11 weeks through March 14. Both Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) workers receive the additional payment that is added to their weekly core unemployment benefits.
The payment is not made retrospectively, as previously discussed by the legislator. The weeks without additional unemployment benefits after the additional $ 600 under the CARES Act and the additional $ 300 under the Lost Wages Assitance (LWA) program are not covered by current legislation.
Evermore says it will take states some time to start sending the additional payments. According to Evermore, they take about two to three weeks to get up and running. Unemployed people are expected to receive additional payments in January, but start dates vary by state.
Expansion of services for contractors, self-employed and others
The PUA and PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) programs should expire at the end of 2020, leaving around 12 million unemployed people without unemployment benefits. Both programs will be extended under the new bill.
PUA currently offers benefits for over 9 million employees who would otherwise not be entitled to regular benefits, such as contractors, self-employed and other employees. The program will be extended by 11 weeks through March 14, giving unemployed Americans a maximum of 50 weeks under the program.
Workers already approved for the program who have not exhausted all of the eligible weeks by March 14 can earn four additional weeks.
It could take a week or two for the PUA and PEUC benefits to expire as state employment services reprogram their systems, Evermore said.
Read More: Here's What You Need To Know About Eligibility for Unemployment Benefit
Pedestrians pass an office location for the New York State Department of Labor in the New York borough of Queens on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (AP Photo / Frank Franklin II)
Another eleven weeks full of benefits
According to the new legislation, the PEUC program now provides a total of 24 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. Previously it was 13 weeks more under the CARES Act. Unemployed Americans can switch to PEUC after they have exhausted their regular state benefits, typically 26 weeks, but that may vary by state.
PEUC also expires on March 14th, but workers who are already admitted to the program and have not used all of the weeks they are entitled to can pick them up for another four weeks.
When workers use up their extra PEUC weeks, they can switch to Extended Benefits (EB), which offer an additional 13-20 weeks. However, the program is only available in countries with higher unemployment rates. PUA recipients only receive seven weeks of EB included in the CARES Act.
The extension of the PEUC program brings the maximum number of weeks of unemployment benefit to 70.
Additional $ 100 for self-employed
Under the new legislation, some "mixed income" earners from both traditional (W-2) and self-employed (1099) sources can qualify for an additional $ 100 per week on top of the additional $ 300 per year.
To be eligible for the benefit, you must earn at least $ 5,000 annually in qualified self-employment income. The additional $ 100 will be available through March 14th.
This has been a problem for many who make most of their income from 1099 sources but are getting a small regular UI benefit from receiving a traditional (W-2) income.
Refrain from overpayments
According to the new legislation, states can forego PUA overpayments in the event of “justice and a clear conscience” or “overpayments through no fault of the individual”. If the applicant has made an honest mistake, the state has the right to waive repayment of the benefits.
"New people, in an entirely new system, the governance of which has changed a few times ... States have found there have been a lot of mistakes and overpayments have been made," Evermore said. "Often it's just stupid mistakes."
Overpayments are also waived for the LWA program, which granted additional unemployment benefits of $ 300 a week after the president's executive action. States also have the right to waive repayment of benefits for this program.
A woman wearing a face mask enters a building where the Employment Development Department has offices in Los Angeles, California on May 4, 2020. A sign says the public access counters to the offices will be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images)
New paperwork requirements
After January 31st, new PUA applicants must submit wage statements within 21 days. The deadline could be extended if applicants can demonstrate an important reason for not complying with this registration deadline.
Everyone who has registered with PUA has 90 days to provide proof of unemployment.
"There's a language that says that if you can't provide this documentation, you won't necessarily be kicked off," Evermore said. "You should just do it."
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Denitsa is a writer for Yahoo Finance and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @denitsa_tsekova.
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