Americans facing financial distress are flooding state unemployment offices and those of other benefits as the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic spirals into an economic catastrophe.
As economists expect a potential recession, experts warn that states like California may struggle to process a flood of new claims for unemployment at once.
The coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a halt. It’s collapsing stock markets, rising levels of unemployment, and drastically changing the way we live. Here are some government benefits and private sector services available during this time.
Unemployment programs are designed to support out-of-work people through no fault of their own. They’re intended as a stopgap measure. They are a way to hold a portion of income temporarily before someone can find a new job.
Unemployment insurance pays an equivalent of $300 a week, about one-third of the equivalent US income, which usually takes about four months to complete. The total sum depends on past earnings from an individual and the reason why they stopped working.
Additionally, the federal government will issue extensions on benefits if economic projections do not change. Between 2009 and 2013, Barack Obama expanded compensation multiple times to combat rising unemployment levels during the Great Recession.
In recent weeks, tens of thousands of US employees have unexpectedly found themselves unemployed. And some analysts have projected the figures will only creep up as the pandemic continues.
There are unemployment benefits, but they vary from state to state. Most states offer unemployment insurance for 26 weeks, while Massachusetts offers up to 30 weeks.
In comparison, North Carolina and Florida support the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for up to 12 weeks.
In New York and New Jersey, this past week, so many people wanted to apply for unemployment that, according to officials, electronic application systems failed in both states.
More limits can also extend to part-time or contract workers, but this also differs from state to state. To apply, please check the details on the website of your specific state.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage given the economic effects of the pandemic, a series of moratoriums on evictions and other measures have been declared by the federal government and several local authorities.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development declared Wednesday a foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single-family homeowners. This is for the next 60 days if they have mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration.
The action “will allow households with an FHA-insured mortgage to meet the COVID-19 challenges without fear of losing their homes. This will support stable market issues,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement.
How Does It Work?
The method differs across states but follows a general pattern that is consistent with federal guidelines.
Individuals file a claim with their state’s unemployment department after a person’s last day of work, listing income and the reason they quit working. States like California are allowing people to file lawsuits online as a means to speed up trials.
The department calls the last employer of a person to validate facts and calculates a weekly sum of compensation based on past earnings and the reason the individual quit working.
The department says it usually takes a few weeks from the time an individual files to when they can access money. That is the best-case scenario. This only happens if cases are resolved and employers respond quickly and check details.
If employers pause, or if specifics are missing on paperwork, it could significantly slow the process. And this can potentially cause weeks or months of waiting time.
The unexpected spike in claims will also make it more and more difficult to speak on the phone. Especially, with a live customer service representative if an application gets hung up.
It is also worth pointing out that the US remains one of the world’s few industrialized nations without federally compensated sick leave. However, certain measures during his time now offer unemployment benefits to those who cannot work due to sickness.
This is for both the government and several companies that have introduced new steps. These steps ensure that you can take time off work without losing wages if you fall ill.
President Donald Trump signed an economic stimulus bill on Wednesday that provides paid sick days for most workers of small and medium-sized companies. To further cover the employers’ expenses, companies will be reimbursed by tax deductions for some of those expenses.
The number of people out of work has risen into the millions. And the crisis is now wavering through various sectors. Many restaurants have closed their doors, newspapers are failing, and the film and television sectors are grinding to a halt.
However, these benefits can help those who need it most. Contact your local government for more information.