How does the CARES Act affect unemployment insurance benefits?
The Texas Workforce Commission is still working on an agreement with the federal government for the implementation of the CARES Act assistance, but here are some of the highlights of the CARES Act unemployment insurance provisions:
- It creates a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which:
- provides a coverage period of January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020, for up to a total of 39 weeks of assistance per individual;
- provides regular unemployment benefit payments to individuals not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, those with limited work history, those who have exhausted their rights to benefits.
- requires individuals to certify they are otherwise able and available to work, except that they are unemployed, partially employed, or unable or unavailable to work as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including, among other reasons, that
- the individual or a member of the household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- the individual is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- the individual is caring for a child or other person in the household whose school or care facility is closed, and the school/facility is required for the individual to work;
- the individual is unable to get to work because of a quarantine imposed;
- the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
- the individual was scheduled to start employment and does not have a job or cannot get to work;
- the individual has become the breadwinner or major support for the household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- the individual has had to quit her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- the individual’s place of employment is closed; or
- the individual meets any other criteria established by the Secretary of Labor for unemployment assistance.
- does not provide benefits to individuals who can telework or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
- It provides an additional $600/week payment (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) to recipients of unemployment benefits through July 31, 2020. If benefits are obtained through fraud, individuals may be criminally prosecuted.
- It provides federal funding to pay for the first week of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 as an incentive for states which choose to waive the typical 1-week “waiting period” before individuals are eligible for benefits to be paid.
- It provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available.
April 2, 2020