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COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits: What’s New

December 30, 2020

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Congress just passed a second COVID-19 relief bill, House Bill HR 133,which will extend the enhanced unemployment benefits started under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act from March. 

We’re here to answer your questions about the new bill and how it affects your unemployment insurance.

Do I qualify for enhanced unemployment benefits?

Under the CARES act passed in March, the federal government expanded unemployment insurance to include people that are usually not able to collect benefits like:

  • Self-employed workers

  • Gig workers

  • Part-time workers

  • People quarantining

  • People diagnosed with COVID-19 or giving care to someone who is diagnosed

  • People who have been temporarily furloughed because of COVID-19

In addition to those circumstances, you may still qualify for unemployment under the regular rules if you lose your job through no fault of your own. The rules vary from state to state. 

Use this registry to check the rules of your local unemployment office.

What are the enhanced benefits?

Besides the expanded groups who qualify for unemployment benefits, the COVID-19 relief stimulus package also includes an additional $300 per week for people who are approved for unemployment insurance. 

This $300 per week is included on top of the benefit amount already awarded by your state, but the added benefit is slated to stop on March 14.

Additionally, some states offer extended unemployment benefits that allow claimants to collect for an additional 13 weeks.

Check with your state office to see your state’s rules.

How do I file for unemployment benefits?

Each state has a different unemployment program and has different rules, but follow federal guidelines.

On the Department of Labor’s website, find your state and follow the instructions of its claim filing process.

For how long can I collect unemployment benefits?

This varies from state to state, but usually you can collect up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance. Now, depending on your state, you may also be able to collect the additional 13 weeks supported by the COVID-19 relief bill.

How do I get paid?

Most states have two ways to get paid:

  • Direct Deposit
    In most states, you can connect a bank account to your unemployment claim and benefits will be directly deposited into your account whenever they’re paid out.

  • Prepaid Debit Card
    Many states will also send out prepaid debit cards as an alternative.

You’ll have to check your state’s local office to see how to set up each payment method.

Can I get my unemployment benefit through Varo?

Yes. If your local state employment office does direct deposit benefits, you can set up your Varo bank account as the one to receive the benefits.

You can read more about setting up direct deposit in the Help Center.

If I closed a recent unemployment claim, can I claim benefits again?

If you’ve recently received unemployment benefits and ended your claim, you can reapply for benefits again. If you’re approved, you are eligible for the remaining weeks of benefits that your state allows for.

Check your local state’s guidelines to see the rules in your area.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

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