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Questions and Answers about Unemployment during COVID-19

5/18/2020

Can I get unemployment benefits if I am not working because of COVID-19?

Yes. You may be eligible if

  • your employer terminated you, furloughed you, or laid you off;
  • you are self-quarantining; or
  • you are the primary caregiver for children whose school is closed.

You should also apply for unemployment if you quit because the work conditions were creating an unreasonable risk to your health. In this case, you must have told your employer about the risky working conditions and your employer must not have done anything to fix the problem.

You may not be able to get unemployment if you quit when you could have taken paid leave.

Can I get unemployment benefits if I quit when I was able to telework?

No.

When and where should I apply for unemployment?

Apply as soon as you stop working. You may not be paid benefits for past weeks if you delay filing.

Apply at the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) website: http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/ui-online.

If you do not have internet access on a computer or a phone, you can apply by calling the DOL at one of these numbers:

203-941-6868
860-967-0493
800-956-3294

Is it easy to file for unemployment benefits?

You will need to have patience. It may be difficult to get into the online filing system because so many people are filing claims. It is a two-part process. You have to set up your benefit payments method (direct deposit or debit card) if you have not collected unemployment before. And you have to answer questions about your eligibility.

Follow the special instructions on the website if you are filing a COVID-19 related claim.

How long will it take to get unemployment benefits?

It may take two weeks because tens of thousands of people have filed claims recently. Your claim will be processed more quickly if you can say that you have been furloughed by your employer. Furloughed means that you think your employer will ask you to come back to work when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

How much will I get in unemployment benefits?

Your weekly benefit depends on how much you earned. The recent average weekly benefit was $403. The most you can get in state benefits is $649 per week. You can get an additional $15 per week for each dependent. In addition, if eligible, you will also get an additional $600 per week from the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) program starting March 27, 2020 and ending on July 31, 2020.

For how many weeks can I collect unemployment?

You can collect regular state benefits for 26 weeks in a one-year period. As of March 27, 2020, if you are eligible, you can get an additional 13 weeks – a total of 39 weeks – from federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) after you have received your regular benefits for all 26 weeks. The state Department of Labor will process your PEUC claim.

There may be additional weeks of benefits after PEUC ends through a program called Extended Benefits.

Yes – you should file a claim for partial unemployment. You will get a reduced benefit (the DOL deducts 2/3 of your gross wages from your weekly benefit) plus the full $600 Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Yes. A new federal law (the CARES Act) created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA will pay up to 39 weeks of benefits to workers who are self-employed (for example, Uber drivers and freelancers).

PUA is also available to workers who

  • are seeking only part-time work,
  • don’t have a long enough work history to qualify for unemployment benefits, or
  • are disqualified from getting regular unemployment benefits.

You must be unable to work because of a reason directly related to COVID-19. For example:

  • You were diagnosed with the virus.
  • You have symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis.
  • You are the primary caregiver for someone with COVID-19.
  • You are the primary caregiver for a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19.

The weekly PUA benefit is a minimum of $198 up to a maximum of $649, depending on your earnings in 2019. You may also be able to get an additional $600 per week from Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) beginning on March 27, 2020 and ending on July 31, 2020.

It is a two-step process.

First, you have to apply for regular unemployment benefits and be denied. You have to wait for a Monetary Determination Letter (form UC-58) from the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) saying that you are not eligible for regular benefits because you did not earn enough wages from an employer. Or you may get a Notice of Decision (form UC-791) saying that you are disqualified from regular unemployment because you quit a job without good cause attributable to the employer or because you engaged in willful misconduct.

Then, after the DOL denies your claim for regular unemployment benefits, you can file for PUA by pressing the red button on the DOL website. The DOL began accepting PUA claims on May 6th. You can get benefits back to the date you filed your claim for regular unemployment.

Only people with authorization to work in the U.S. can get unemployment benefits. Some undocumented immigrants may be eligible because the US Immigration agency has granted them work authorization – including immigrants who have DACA status and others who have petitions that USCIS is evaluating.

Maybe. It partly depends on whether the work is “suitable” for you. It may not be suitable if the employer is not providing a safe and healthy work environment or if you are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of your health problems.

It also depends on whether you still have a COVID-related reason for staying out of work: for example, you have been ordered to self-quarantine or you have not been able to find an alternative caregiver for your school-aged children.

Yes, some rules have temporarily changed. For the first 26 weeks, you are not required to apply for jobs (“work search”) and you are “available” as long as you intend to return to work when you can.

For the additional 13 weeks, you must apply for jobs although the work search rule will likely not apply if you are restricted from working due to COVID-19 or under a quarantine order or advisory from your health care provider due to COVID-19.

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