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4 Things to Know About Unemployment Benefits Under the CARES Act

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Editor's note: This information is no longer up to date. Find more recent guidance on unemployment insurance benefits at

Expanded unemployment insurance benefits are now available to millions of Americans who are out of work for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This includes people who are not ordinarily eligible, such as self-employed, independent contractor, and gig workers.

Here are answers to four frequently asked questions about how these benefits work:


How many weeks of regular unemployment insurance am I entitled to?

How many weeks you can receive benefits depends on state law. Find info on your state program here. It is important to file for benefits in the state where you last worked because doing so helps determine your eligibility for any additional federal benefits. However, before you can receive benefits, you must be found to be eligible based on the reasons you are unemployed. This analysis varies by state, so, again, it is important to file your claim in the state where you last worked.


Do I qualify for the additional $600 in federal benefits?

An additional $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits are available to everyone receiving state unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. The funds are available for any weeks beginning after the date the state enters into an agreement through the week ending July 31. You don’t need to apply separately for these benefits – if you're eligible, you will receive them through your state.


What happens after I exhaust my regular state benefits?

You may be eligible for additional benefits under the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, available through Dec. 31. Approval is based on your regular state claim: If you were eligible for benefits from your state, you are also eligible for this extension through the CARES Act. You need to apply for them.

Some states may be able to provide an additional 13 or 20 weeks of extended benefits, based on the unemployment rate in that state, that will kick in next. If you were eligible for regular unemployment benefits, you may also be eligible for your state’s extended benefits.


What if I don’t qualify for regular unemployment benefits, or if I have exhausted the federal benefits?

You may be eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act available through Dec. 31. The amount you will receive is calculated by your state.

These benefits can last for a total of 39 weeks, which includes the number of weeks of regular benefits and extended benefits you’ve received from your state. For example: If you received 13 weeks of benefits from your state and the 13 additional weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, you may receive another 13 weeks under this program.

You may be covered if one of these reasons, among others, applies:

  • You or someone in your home was diagnosed with COVID-19, or have symptoms and are waiting to be diagnosed
  • You’re caring for a family member or someone in your home who has COVID-19
  • You’re caring for a child whose school or childcare is closed because of COVID-19
  • You’ve been quarantined by a government body or medical professional
  • You’ve lost your job or cannot reach your job because of COVID-19
  • You’ve become the main source of income for a household due to a death caused by COVID-19
  • You’ve quit your job because of COVID-19
  • Your workplace is closed because of COVID-19
  • You were scheduled to start a new job but could not because of COVID-19

Self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and people who have not worked long enough to qualify for the other types of unemployment assistance may still qualify for PUA if they meet one of the COVID-19 reasons above. States must first verify that these workers are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

Find more information about unemployment insurance generally here and more information about unemployment insurance relief during the COVID-19 outbreak here, including contact information for your state unemployment insurance office.


Gay Gilbert is the Administrator of the Office of Unemployment Insurance in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.


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I applied for PUA (5/1/20) and my claims still shows “processing”.
Others in my office applied and received an email within 24 hours. What can I do?

In reply to by Brandy Hunt (not verified)

Mine the same way they finally paid mine 10/120.
But shorted me 8 weeks.They said I can go back and
File for it. Alabama

My store closed August 2019 tried to find full time retail management job for 6 months finally got a full time job in old town Clovis and 3 weeks later Covid 19 happened . Was able to draw my last 2 weeks then exausted my benefits 3/29. Still waiting to hear about the extension in Fresno California. Have been without income since the that time . Contacted Assemblyman Patterson office and still have not received any funds or information when funds will be available.

Regarding Stimulus checks, we are yet to receive the stimulus checks for my husband and me. We are on social security.
Unable to contact anyone on this. Does anybody know how to inquire about this?

I exhausted my state unemployment 4.wks ago in Iowa when will they start these new benefits and will it be retro to the date I ran out

I've applied for regular unemployment as instructed. I was denied but I was never switched to cares covid19, or instructed what to do after that. I'm a state certified sub contracted medical/social Interpreter and have been unemployed since 3/20. It is so frustrating not being able to speak with an agent and I feel I'm being ignored. Is there a link where i can apply directly for the cares covid19 UI? Please let me know if there is, I really either need to work or need some type of cares act covid19 assistance, as I am a single parent.
I look forward for someone to help me please.
Thank you!

In reply to by Elvia Delgado (not verified)

There is a site called PUA. I believe it’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance but if you type PUA into the search bar it will take you to the site. Hope this helps.

I have an emergency situation can you put $500 on my EDD debit card and you guys can take it out on my next payday

I've been trying to get benefits for several weeks. I received a U S bank card. I've followed the prompts but I get conflicting results. I can't get thru to a human for answers.

I received a letter saying I am eligible but I have received no payments I think it’s because my checking account information was entered incorrectly. However I have not been able to change it because I have not been assigned a pin number and every automated phone system is requiring me to enter a pin number in order to proceed. I am going in circles and I’m so frustrated please help!

I had worked for a non profit, who furloughed me on April 17, 2020 because of the Coronavirus. This employer was not required to pay into UI, so I have no income and I was denied UI. I will never work for a non profit again.

I’ve exhausted my claim 4/11/20 yet California still has not yet implemented the 13 week extension. We need help other states have already done so. I’m on week 5 with no money and need help

I applied on 3/25 in the state of Florida. I receive regular unemployment. However, I haven’t received the $600 a week. I’ve called 3 phones numbers, emailed and still no response.

I exhausted my benefits but I didn't reach maximum benefits and it lead me to filing the pua eligibility... it says pending resolution been saying that for about 2 weeks what am I to I approved and just waiting like I did when I first filed or will I b denied...and will I get back pay if I'm approved?

I have LUPUS, HIGH Blood Pressure, and Asthma. Is it really safe for me to return to work?

I really would like to know why I was denied for unemployment

It is so Difficult to contact EDD by Telephone or even email response

Are you eligible for anything if you go back to work part time and can’t get unemployment

The unemployment system for 1099 workers is the greatest hoax on the Florida people.

My company Separated me on March 26, 2020 " Claiming , Presumptive Resignation". I was out on approved FMLA recieving treatment for a job related injury from 2015.

Sadly, while on FMLA I unexpectedly lossed two brothers two days apart living in Boston Massachusetts. This devesated our family. My physician and I spoke separately to my HR director . Monday, March 2, 2020. I requested March 2-15,2020 to cover the time that I'm in Boston Massachusetts. The HR Director never indicated orally or in our emails that my leave was
Monday, March 16 ,2020 I spoke via phone to HR Director on my way to my doctor's appointment. She ask me to check my email about signing Time Sheet in Agency by end of day. I agreed and to keep her posted.

Monday, March 16,2020 , fax document from doctor to HR,
He stated," she would remain out....job has impacted her functional capacity to where she can no longer work effectively ". He also followed the CDC guidelines for "self isolation" because of my weaken immune system, underlying medical condition and trip from Boston Massachusetts.

He suggested that I start medical retirement process after the Covid-19 crisis is clarified. 14day or 8 weeks.

(I had PTO and Short Term Disability or Work Compensation , LWOP. )???

HR discussed nothing with me. Apparently... writing a Certified Letter on Thursday, March 19,2020

April 15, 202p... sent update from doctor

HR sent me a. email on April 16,2020 with Separated date: March 26, 2020after I sent her an update on my medical treatment using Tele-☆Med no in office appointment

She locked me out of the company staff login system and denied access to my email, resignation forfeit any of my benefits, nothing, and I have a Permanent Partial rating from the job incident from 2015. Yet not one cent. I have no income.

HR Director and Communicated Wednesday, March 18,2020

She mentioned nothing about FMLA or unauthorized leave. Nor me needing additional documentation.

I worked for this company since 1993 Part-Time and Full-Time 8/16/1995- 3/26/2020

The Agency literally Dismissed me like Trash with absolutely nothing to show for my time and services in the MR /IDD field that I love so much!!!

How can they do this?

I struggled for money I had ever received anything from the government yet except my little retirement. I’m still waiting for stimulus money. System said they had mailed since May 01 2020. Nothing yet. I got denied unemployment. I don’t know who’s am I qualify for.

What if I worked two jobs to make ends meet and I'm not getting paid from the second job now? I'm I then eligible to file under the cares act?

I still haven't received a check. Its May 16th.... Its been almost 2 MONTHS. Its literally mental abuse. I know I am not alone but that does not make it easier to handle. You can NOT get a human to help. Been given credit for weeks I have applied but no check has been issued and can NOT find out why.

I have applied and been approved fo UI Benefits in Texas (TWC), but the weekly amount is less than $600. What should I do?

Hi, I was lastly working in Idaho and currently in Iowa taking care of my daughter. I quit my job in Mid April and moved to Iowa. I know that I should apply for my unemployment benefits in Idaho. But Idaho's Department of Labor website is always in error and the phone is always busy. I wonder what should I do now? Can I apply in Iowa?

I can't find the form to apply.

My unemployment ran out last week. How will I know if I’m getting the extension? I’m not working still.

I thought there was not a required waiting period under the unemployment cares act?

When should Virginia see the peuc up and running

Applied for unemployment in FL..application was received on April 27th. Have not heard if I am elligible or not since then. What can I do? Need income. In Florida in order to find out more about your claim you must have a PIN #, but have not received the Temporary PIN#, so I can not get any information on line, and calling is an all day experience. Something needs to be done about the State's Unemployment Sysytem...not only in FL but other states are having the same problem.

I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in July 2019, and had short term disability with my company. I was paid $900 every two weeks for 6 months. After the disability ran out I was told by my cardiologist I can work part time starting April 1, 2020. My company pays by the case and I have not gotten any cases as of today (May 15, 2020) can I collect unemployment. I am paid $19.00 per hour and live in Ohio, but my company is located in Louisiana.

Clarification on federal benefits with state benefits. When you exhaust your state benefits after 1 week of unemployment compensation, is the state supposed to make you wait the 13 weeks before federal benefits kick in? Additionally, if they pay right away, week 2, do you only get the 13 weeks of federal benefits instead of the 26 state and 13 federal weeks if you had more income to support 26 weeks of payments?

Are states supposed to be assessing penalty weeks for jobs you voluntarily quit but did not file unemployment on? For example a job you quit in 2018, but are assessed 13 weeks of nonpay penalties on your valid COVID qualifying claim.

I have only received two $600 checks along with 5 weeks of unemployment the date being 5-10-2020 Florida. When will I receive the additional $600 checks?

Thank you,

Sherry Goodman

As I continue to read different articles, I get confused. I was unemployed pre-covid. I recently exhausted state (Florida) UI benefits, but was never paid any FPUC. Am I eligible for FPUC or not? Am I eligible for PEUC? What other CARES Act programs, if any, would I be eligible for?

I did the initial clams for unemployment back in April 2 for the weeks of April 18 to the present and my Unemployment status is and has been "payments being held due to eligible issues" and its under review , it has been this way since April , I have filed correctly and have reported all the wages I received for my part time job and after my job was on hold and I was not getting paid from them ...I have bills to pay and food to get ...this is unheard of and I need those benefits and Im not getting them

I filed application on 3/29. Received 2 payments. Then they stopped, last one was 4/18. I have certified weekly but it send me email saying unpayable at this time. Last 2 times certifying, it tells me to reassert the claim since I have worked 1-2 hours since last claim. Have no notification via email about my claim. Please advise on what I should do. I have been very patient with a system that has been anything but stress free to deal with.

Living in North Carolina I am and have not received the $600 additional in my unemployment. Can’t get through to anyone! Any suggestions?

I was layed off on March 20th due to Covid19. I applied for unemployment March 27th. ( as it was very difficult to get through ) My question is, am I eligible to be paid under the Cares act? Its very confusing and impossible to get through to a human being. Thank you

I'm Still collecting my regular UC but didn't receive the extra 600 this week. Its usually deposited the day before my regular UC pay...didnt happen yesterday and still didn't get it today...

I live in TN but work all over US -17 states 2019 where should I try filing ?

My contract as an environmental educator ended December 31, 2019. I had a few health issues during January and February and then could not qualify for a job loss due to COVID-19. I have received no assistance, moved to my parent’s home and need some financial help. What do you recommend?

When I initially received my benefits amount it did not include the $600. I filed before COVID-19. I have since noticed that the additional $600 has been consistently deducted from my initial/regular amount. I live in TX and unable to find a way to get clarity. I thought the ADDITIONAL $600 was just that an addition. I am now out of benefits BEFORE anticipated due to the additional $600 being deducted from my initial/regular amount. Should it be this way?

I applied back in April of 2020 had to reapply In June are July I’m just getting approved why I didn’t receive the $600 I was only paid like $240 are $300 in the stimulus not the whole $600 I’m trying to see why I didn’t get the whole $600 .

I want to ask a question what if my job closed down because of the covid 19 and is still down because of dont have no return date how do.i apply for the extened relief of my pandemic relief has already ended? Please help.

How do I know if im eligible

What to do if you were denied for PUA; self-employed, lost a lot of work, and had a significant decrease in income. Denied Unemployment, denied EIDL, haven't received 1st Stimulus Check, haven't received tax refunds due me, and denied all assistance I've applied for. Now about to lose what little income I have left because I was exposed to Covid-19 and am awaiting test results, because of that, I may be losing another client. I am at witts end. I'm behind in rent, utilities, and can't make my car payment. Hope is gone. I am trying to get money for a storage unit so I can place my business equipment and personal items in because I am not far from being evicted or having utilities shut off. Don't know where else to turn, I've tried everything.
Some people get it all; some people get nothing

I have been the recipient of a kidney transplant for the past 23 years. The pandemic has me crazy as I’m a gig worker in skincare and my clients won’t come. I have tried to hold on but they are more and more scared as am I. What should I do

Can you still file for unemployment benefits even though you didn’t while you were laid off?

How long does this take? I filed in July and heard nothing.

I have never received federal and my state benefits are exhausted two months ago. When will I get it?