COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits, Programs, & Assistance Options

The COVID-19 outbreak is unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Beyond the public health crisis, the pandemic has severely impacted our economy. As of early May, the U.S. has lost more than 36 million jobs — a staggering number compared to the 15 million jobs lost in the financial crisis of 2008.

At Coding Dojo, we help our students land great jobs after graduation. Even if you’re not a student, we want to help you, too.

If you have been unemployed, furloughed, or otherwise negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, it may seem like the sky is falling. But, there are steps you can take to protect yourself financially and resources to utilize to make ends meet. Here are three tips to get started: 

1. Filing Your Claim and CARES Act Benefits
The Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act gives states the extra resources to fund unemployment programs. Plus, it provides the option of extending unemployment compensation to independent contractors and other workers who are ordinarily ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Depending on your previous job and work history, you may be eligible for an extra $600 per week. The CARES Act also extended unemployment benefits from a maximum of 26 weeks to a maximum of 39 weeks, giving impacted workers an extra 13 weeks of support. 

The Department of Labor has set up an online portal to provide contact information for each states’ unemployment office. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.

The gears of government can sometimes turn slowly. It’s important to file your unemployment claim as soon as you can to expedite the process. Depending on the state, claims may be filed online, by telephone, or in person. You will need to file a claim in the state where you worked, if you’ve worked in multiple states you may need to file multiple claims. 

Visit the Department of Labor online portal, or your state’s unemployment office’s website directly, to file your claim and get the process going. 

2. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
If you are a self-employed worker or do not have a long enough work history to qualify for regular state unemployment insurance, you may now be eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act. PUA is a federal program that provides payment to workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. Examples of these types of workers include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-employed
  • Independent contractors
  • Gig Economy workers
  • Those with limited work history
  • Seasonal or temporary workers
  • Those who just started or were about to start a job

It may seem a bit counter intuitive, but the first step to access PUA funds is to file for regular unemployment and get denied. Odd, we know, but denial to traditional unemployment insurance is a federal requirement to access the expanded unemployment program under the CARES act. Once denied, you can then apply for PUA through your state’s unemployment office. Government bureaucracy at its finest! To qualify for PUA, the reason you cannot work must be related to COVID-19, you cannot be on full-paid leave, or have the option to telework for full pay. 

3. Check for Additional Programs and Retraining Initiatives
Each state may have additional programs or relief sources available for you. Make sure to call, email or visit your local Career Center office to apply for any additional aid that is available such as The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded programs. 

WIOA is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

It’s important to note that unemployment benefits are subject to federal and most state income taxes and must be reported on your 2020 income tax return. You may choose to have the tax withheld from your payment.

The timeline for when you’ll begin receiving benefits will depend on the backlog for your state. So again, timeliness is key and file as soon as you can!

During the downtime, if you are interested in reskilling to find a better career, Coding Dojo bootcamp offers an accelerated option to transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (once safe to do so) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers. 

Meet with your local unemployment office’s representatives to see if Coding Dojo is on the Eligible Training Provider List and if you are eligible for WIOA funding for Coding Dojo’s courses.

If you want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-min exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today. 

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