April 9, 2020

The CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020, expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits, and increased the amount of unemployment benefits that eligible individuals may receive. The CARES Act increased unemployment benefits, and access to unemployment benefits for millions of Americans affected by the COVID-19 crisis in three primary ways:

  1. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Extended eligibility for people who have traditionally been ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits (including the self-employed and independent contractors);
  2. Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: An additional $600 per week, on top of regular benefits, to all unemployment insurance recipients; and
  3. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation: An additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits, beyond the regular 26 weeks already provided, for a total of 39 weeks of coverage.

Individuals are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if they are able to work, but cannot work because they:

  • Are diagnosed COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking diagnosis;
  • Have a member of the household who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are providing care for a family or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • Are the primary caregiver for a child whose school or care facility closed, due to COVID-19;
  • Are unable to reach their place of employment due to an imposed quarantine, or medically-recommended quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • Were scheduled to start new employment and cannot reach the workplace as a result of COVID-19;
  • Became the major breadwinner because the head of household died from COVID-19;
  • Quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • Had their place of employment closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • Meet any additional criteria specified by U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Individuals who can work remotely, or who are receiving paid sick or other paid leave benefits are not eligible.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation provides individuals with an additional $600 per week, on top of the weekly benefit of their home state (currently $240 in Arizona). The additional $600 per week will expire on July 31, 2020, unless extended by the United States Congress.

In addition to the foregoing, Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation permits all covered individuals to receive up to 39 weeks of state unemployment benefits (an increase from the prior limit of 26 weeks).

To apply for unemployment benefits or for more information on Arizona’s unemployment insurance program, click here.

About the Author: Meaghan Kramer assists clients with employment law and commercial litigation matters. Meaghan is advising clients on workplace related legal issues arising from COVID-19. Meaghan writes about employment issues, including safeguarding workplace confidences, and creating work environments that are free from discrimination and harassment. mkramer@eblawyers.com | 602.222.4995

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice and is only for general, non-specific informational purposes. It is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. If you have a legal matter, the specific facts that apply to you may require legal knowledge not addressed by this article. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer.