As you’re probably well aware, the coronavirus has impacted millions of workers in the United States, pushing many into the unemployment bracket. After many months, on December 21, 2020 Congress finally passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, a statute primarily enacted to keep the federal government running. But it also contained benefits related to the pandemic. While smaller than the 2 laws passed last March, this statute contains $900 billion for coronavirus relief.
Continued Unemployment Compensation
As we explained in an earlier blog, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act, had provided $600 per week for eligible workers who had lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. That statute expired on December 31, 2020.
Under the December 2020 statute, Congress developed different unemployment benefits in the following ways:
- The bill extends two CARES Act unemployment programs for 11 more weeks.
- The new law provides $300 per week (cut in half) for all workers entitled to receive unemployment benefits, through March 14, 2021.
- It also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, with coverage for the self-employed, gig workers, freelancers, and others in non-traditional employment.
- Additionally, the new law increases the maximum number of weeks an individual may claim benefits through regular state unemployment to 50 weeks.
- And there is an extra benefit of $100 per week for certain workers who have both employer and self-employment income but whose base unemployment benefit calculation doesn’t take their self-employment into account.
Voluntary Paid Sick Leave and Family Leave:
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) mandated paid sick and family leave due to the coronavirus. In return, employers were able to recoup that expenditure through tax credits on their tax returns.
Now, the new law just passed extends the tax credit through March 2021 for employers that continue to voluntarily offer paid sick and family leave to their employees. Eligibility requirements for employees remain the same as under the FFCRA. We explained this statute in an earlier blog, also.
Any Other Help for People Out of Work?
No, sorry. This Congress did not see the need to provide any more benefits for individual employees. However, $600 checks were mailed to every eligible tax payer based on the amount of last year’s tax return.
There is hope for more help on the horizon, as new proposed legislation has been unveiled. But as always happens with Congress, we’ll have to hold our breath and wait.
How Do You Qualify?
The amount and duration of unemployment benefits that you are eligible to receive depends on the law in the state where you last worked. The state will determine your eligibility for any additional federal benefits. Here is one resource with the Department of Labor that can get you started.
If you have any questions pertaining to the new coronavirus benefits for 2021, give us a call.