How to Apply for Unemployment Due to Coronavirus

file for unemployment benefits

The financial impact of COVID-19 has already been felt in one way or many by everyone around the world. Many Americans are currently in quarantine and unable to go to work, have been laid off or even lost their jobs entirely since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A Massive Number of People are Applying for Unemployment

Aside from worrying about contracting COVID-19 themselves and having a deep concern for the health of family and loved ones, a historic number of people are now shouldering huge burdens without income. These unemployed workers must now worry about how financial obligations will be met and even how essentials will be obtained during and after this global crisis.

Now is not the time for pride. Everyone needs some type of assistance at this time and there is no shame in filing for unemployment benefits if you could be eligible.

The CARES Act will provide additional funding for unemployment and some states that have mandatory waiting periods (typically one week) to collect unemployment benefits have waived them during the coronavirus pandemic.

While you may have never dreamed there would be a day that you would have to accept any type of government assistance, you also could have never predicted the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

We are living in historically uncertain times. The country (and world) has never come to a complete standstill like this before and we still do not know how long mandatory quarantine conditions will last.

How to File For Unemployment Benefits

To file an unemployment claim to receive benefits you will need to have some required documentation handy.

Important to gather for your application:

  • Your Social Security card (or number)
  • Your driver’s license or state-issued ID card number
  • Your current mailing address
  • Your current phone number
  • Your bank account number and routing number
  • The names and addresses of your employers from the past two years 
  • Your most recent employer’s FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number), which can be found on your W-2 tax form

With your information ready, go to the Department of Labor Career OneStop finder page and use the pull-down menu to select your state. Most states were already set up for unemployment claims to be filed online before the coronavirus pandemic.

If you are unable to file a claim online in your state, there will be a toll-free number for you to call for more information.

“If you don’t see updated information yet, you should still apply. If you have already applied, then once your state updates their information you will receive your full benefits or be notified if your state needs more information.”

Department of Labor

Please, be patient when your state government pages load slowly.

Their servers are under a lot of strain right now due to the unprecedented number of people who are currently unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment Benefits are Typically for 26 Weeks

Also, you should know that unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary and typically are only paid for a period of 26 weeks.

However, some workers may be eligible to claim up to 20 extra weeks due to the circumstances.

To be eligible to receive unemployment benefits it is usually required that you actively seek employment. However, most states are waiving that requirement for now, as it is ludicrous in these circumstances. California and Ohio took the lead on waiving the required job-seeking efforts, as it’s obvious that nobody can go out and hit the pavement right now to look for non-existent job opportunities.

It’s also usually required that you renew your unemployment claim each week to continue receiving benefits.

The amount of unemployment benefits you receive can vary a lot depending on where you live. It typically is only a percentage of your regular wages and does not fully replace your earned income.

It also may be considered taxable income in some states, so be sure to check with a tax professional before tax time to know where you stand, though I’m sure that’s the last thing on your mind. Stay safe!