What to Expect When You Apply for Unemployment Benefits

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Millions of people have filed for unemployment benefits as employers across the country respond to the pandemic and economic downturn. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act extends unemployment benefits to a wider range of people, increases the amount of payment, and extends the length of time people can access the program. Please check with the Department of Labor for more information.

At Varo, we are here to serve you. If you’re using Varo for direct deposit, we aim to get you your funds as soon as we receive them.

Who can now qualify for unemployment?

The CARES Act includes many more people than are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, including:

✅Self-employed people including gig workers

✅Part-time workers 

✅People diagnosed with COVID-19 or are caring for someone who has been

✅People whose employers temporarily ceased operations do to COVID-19

✅People quarantined who expect to return to work when quarantine ends

✅People leaving employment because of exposure risk or to take care of a family member

You will need to check with your state’s unemployment office to determine exact eligibility. Here is a list with every states’ unemployment office.

How do I file for unemployment?

Each state handles its own unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law. Please find a link to your own state on the Department of Labor’s website

How much additional money is the new unemployment benefit?

It depends on your state, but the CARES Act has expanded who is eligible for unemployment, and added an extra $600 per week on top of your state’s benefit through the end of July 2020.

How do I get my unemployment benefit?

Direct deposit: In many states, you can connect your unemployment benefit to your bank account, and each state has its own process for filing and setting up payment. Check with your state’s website. Generally, to set up direct deposit, you’ll need the account number and routing number for your bank account. 

Prepaid debit card: Many states issue prepaid debit cards to distribute benefit payments. You will need to check with your own state’s unemployment office to learn what the process is.

Can I use Varo to get my unemployment benefit?

Yes. Once you’ve signed up for unemployment benefits in your state you can connect your Varo Bank Account. You will need your routing number and account number to complete signing up for direct deposit. Learn more about connecting your unemployment with direct deposit to your Varo account in our Help Center.

Connecting your unemployment benefit to your Varo Bank Account — versus using the state-issued prepaid debit card — could make it more convenient and less costly to access your money compared to using the state-issued prepaid debit card. 

There is no monthly fee for a Varo Bank Account. You can make fee-free transfers between Varo Bank Accounts with the Varo to Varo peer-pay feature; there is also no fee at more than 55,000 Allpoint® ATMs worldwide, which are located in essential-service stores such as Target, Costco, and Walgreens. As a reminder, your Varo Visa® Debit card must be activated in order to transfer money. Learn more here.

For how long can I get my unemployment payment?

Every state is slightly different but in general you can qualify for up to 26 weeks (6+ months) under the regular guidelines. The new bill extends payments for an additional 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks. However, note that the additional $600 bump only lasts for the next 16 weeks and ends July 31, 2020. 

Everyone who files for unemployment benefits between Jan. 27, 2020 and through Dec. 31, 2020 will be eligible for extended benefits.

Can I sign up again if I recently ran out of unemployment benefits?

If you have recently exhausted your benefits, you can reapply. How much you are eligible to receive, and for how long, depend on the state where you worked. Everyone would get at least another 13 weeks, along with the extra $600 payment.

Sources: New York Times, Department of Labor, Congress.gov

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