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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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Can I get unemployment benefits I work at a church child care been out of work since March

How come I’ve been waiting sense June for my unemployment and it still says pending identification verification? I’ve uploaded everything they needed

I'm still owed for six weeks of the federal help, 600.00 a week money's, I've been having to wait forever to get my unemployment, usually 7 weeks before they start gradually paying it, so because of that I'm also not getting the 600/week that I have available until 7/25/2020. I am not able to pay my rent or my normal bills because of this, any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Gerald E Wertz Jr

I am unable to reapply for my state benefits that expired in August in Florida. I have a Connect account , I have made an attempt every day, I have been on the phone for 5 hours. I now cannot even get a Representative. The phone goes dead. In the meantime I cannot confirm and claim my weeks.

I been un employed since December 2019, but didn't spply for unemployment, am I elgible to receive my unemployment compensation now eigth months later.

if i took a leave of absence because of my age and being the oldest worker in my workplace can i receive the $600 weekly payment?

Wheres is my unemployment benefits and where is my 2nd stimulus check

I want to file a claim for unemployment.

I was hired in February at a day care that closed before my first day due to COVID. I never applied for benefits because I was just trying to find work, and didn't know how. I was told I could apply now retroactively. Is this true.

I applied for regular unemployment and for the last 3 or 4 weeks they have sent me a letter saying no decision has been made so what do I do?

If I have applied for regular unemployment and I have been denied do they automatically try pandemic unemployment for you or do you have to reapply

Hi, I am wondering if I was able to get retroactive unemployment benefits due to the covid 19, I was completely unaware that I was even eligible because I had worked for my job less than 6 months, I had left to self quarantine n to teach my 4 children during the epidemic. But I didn't realize that I could have been get unemployment even if I hadn't worked for my job for a minimum of 6 months. So can I still recieve the unemployment from the time I left (retro back ) till ten Is my question and if so how to go about that.

I received one unemployment check, but not today's. How do I check on this? It is hard to communicate with anyone.

I receive a small amount of unemployment each week now and I was getting the 600 dollars a week that was given and has now stopped Am I in title to any other benefits at this moment?

I was receiving the pandemic $600 in addition to my weekly benefits which is a whopping $87 a week. When school got canceled I lost my child care and also my car because it took nine weeks to get a check and when the $600 a week was exhausted I went back down to making less than $400 a month. I apply for 15 to 20 jobs a day but there's just nothing available. I know I wasn't eligible for the FEMA option once the $600 payments ran out but will I be eligible under the new stimulus package

Would l be able to claim benefits if l babysit part time for children that are not in school-due to COVID-19

I have been out of work since December 2019 unable to find work and my bills are piling up and I can never get through to unemployment office to sign up cause I do not have access to my old email or phone number from 2014. Can someone please help me..


I was placed on 50% furlough in March 2020 due to COVID-19. I make too much to qualify for MI Unemployment but I should qualify for the $600 Federal assistance and the State of Michigan is claiming I don't qualify for anything. My understanding is under the CARES Act that I would. Please advise as this has been a battle for 6 months and I don't know what else to do. Please clarify if I would be or not.

Do i still qualify for the $600 ,even if my last day of work was 6/10/2020?

If I was on unemployment before coronavirus hit am I still eligible for the extra 300 a week

Is there a Covid-19 relief benefit for people who worked in grocery store and did not normally make $600 per week like many of the people who received didn’t normally make $600.
The people who worked should get a a check to make their check & Covid-19 relief equal $600 for all people.

I live in Georgia I applied for benefits UI PUA unemployment in April but didn't get my way2go card or payment untill around the end of July I received one payment of $600) and after that im only receiving one hundred and twenty five dollars? Is this right? Or is there something I'm not doing Right? Just wondering?

When does the extra 300 kick in Massachusetts?

What happens if they put in your account information that they paid you the pandemic payment and you didn’t receive any funds for the pandemic during that time how do I go of retrieving the funds that are owed to me

I'm file for my unemployment on August 25th 2020 but have not got an answer or email or a letter or nothing cannot get through the phone lines I really need some help

hello, im still seeking the extended unemployment benefits, thats in place till Dec 31st!
My claim ended on July 4,2020, I reapplied for benefits and have sent emails pertaining my situation and benefits of the C.A.R.E.S ACT!

I need to apply for my back pay as far back as I can my last day of work was 12/20/2019 due to pAndemic I got sick sister got sick dad was sick and hours at work were going less and less as I took sick time got tested for Corona virus was negative 14 days later about I came back negative too but I thought I was going to have to take care of him maybe be moving to prescott.and later on my sister was possitive with Corona virus.but it took her two weeks to get results I might have been exposed to her and virus.Anyays I quit my job due to someone in family sick I'm sick and hours went lower weekly or no work at All I'm sick.not knowing if it was Corona I stayed home and didn't return back to work to quit until after Xmas vaction and still wasnt sure if I had Corona so called in sick then quit before I found out if it was the Corona or job was in jeprody I thought if I don't quit I'll be fired on bad terms.i thought if I tell them I'm leaving to take care of my father they'd it played out I filed for unemployment right away but didn't qualify but again I applied for unemployment due to pAndemic unemployment I qualified but didn't receive January to now benefits I thought I qualified as far back as I could go to being unemployed I need to file a claim for Jan,Feb,mar,April,may,June,July,Aug ,sept,I got paid 417 gross two weeks,and 217 last week and $117 this week.

What should I do if I’m suppose to be getting pandemic Unemployment Assistance but was given regular unemployment?

My husband was diagnosed with Covid on the 3rd of September. Warren County MO. Health department has quarantined me till the 18th. I called my unemployment in and they mentioned the company I work for will have to pay me 2 weeks. I filed for both weeks. Where do I go now.

I'm trying to find out why I got elbgle for my unemployment money and filled out what they sent me and got my code but I still got 152 and have not gotten not a single payment of the 300 but I was elbgle for it and I'm still getting the regular pay do they pay it separate to your card

I have not been employed since 2016 i left my job to take care of son) injury) then the store closed, and i have not work now with covid its more hard for me to find a job, can i still apply for unemployment?

where is my cares act funds have not received please help am about to lose everything

I have been filing or doing my very best to file but not one payment has been made to me. I don't understand because everyone around me is getting their unemployment. Yes they too are self employed. I don't understand. I'm losing everything and I owe my family dearly. What can I do to get this done? PLEASE HELP. IM LOST IN HERE. SINCERELY CLAYTON L MORELAND!

I need help please. I have been filing or doing my very best to file but not one payment has been made to me. And everyone around me is getting their unemployment Yes they too are self employed I am losing everything. Please help me. Sincerely CLAYTON L MORELAND

I didn't qualify for the unemployment because I didn't make enough money then I had lost my job because of other issues I was fired but then covid 19 happened and everybody was told to remain quarantine at home by government so I wasn't able to find work again but I somehow didn't get the pandemic assistance and I'm wondering why.

I get 83.00 dollars a week and can't find a job. I didn't get 300 dollars. With 3 small kid's. That's not fair

My job in march was cut short as a sub in a school, not many of us are able to pick up work anymore and when I had given them a medical documentation of my condition to be considered for remote work (as every employee was considered regardless of time at the company) I was denied. Now, as LWA was given, was also told it would end this month, September. What is going to happen with the extension moving forward

Thank you for keeping us updated, but everyone is wandering when are we going to receive the back pay since August frist..?

Im not computer literate and do not understand how to do this. I was self employed cleaning senior citizens homes when covid hit i lost all clients im deperate to pay bills and take care of my child. I need help

I am employed at a church. On July 25th I was admitted to Riverside Hospital. I was there 11 days and released after fighting for my life from COVID19. I am still going through physical therapy, have lung issues, and still weak as well as experience dizzy spells at times. My doctor recommended I work from home, (which we were doing during from March through September 20th), due to several medical conditions that risk my health. My employer indicates to me that I must either take use my PTO or try for disability. They will not allow me to work from home although we were doing so during the peak of the epidemic. They are indicating due to legal issues, the church can no longer do so.
Is this legal? Can they release me from my job of I am still unable to return to work and refuse to give me disability. I have worked there for 17 years and just would like to know my rights. Thank you! Ms. Gonzalez

Will I be eligible for the 2nd stimulus check?

Can I file for unemployment if I’m still working but my income has been dramatically cut

I am 14 and I have worked about 20 hours could I file?

I applied for regular unemployment benefits, No one informed me of this cares act extended benefit, Can I apply for that extended benefits? I could really use the funds I find that I am in a hardship situation making my mortgage payments Is there any other relief assistance I may be eligible for?
I thank you for posting this information I’m hoping it’s not to later for me to get the extended unemployment benefits . And you have a great day ,

What happened when you don't get the payment?

They don’t sent any money for any unemployment irs sents it

Do I qualify

In reply to by George akins (not verified)

Contact your state unemployment insurance office. Find contact information here:   

I am still waiting on back date payment from Feb 1 , opened claim on Aug 2 I can not get through to talk to any one is there an office I can go to ? I recieve $195.oo from PUA I am unemployed as a result from chovid 19 as I cared for the elderly with daily tasks