The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen more Americans file for unemployment benefits than ever before. In one two-week stretch in March 2020, a staggering 10 million people applied for unemployment. In response to the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, Congress recently passed the CARES Act, a federal law that expands unemployment eligibility to self-employed individuals and those who had to stop working for coronavirus-related reasons. The law also provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits on top of whatever the state provides (up to 39 weeks).
Unemployment benefits are available to employees in every state who are out of work through no fault of their own. In most states, workers are eligible for unemployment benefits if their earnings meet certain minimum thresholds in terms of hours or wages; and if they were laid off, quit for good cause, or were fired for anything other than misconduct. States typically require that applicants be actively searching to find a suitable job. Each state has its own rules for determining eligibility, calculating the amount and duration of benefits, and appealing denials of benefits.
Unemployment benefits are typically paid on a weekly basis, at a certain percentage of your past earnings, for a set period of time (usually up to 26 weeks).
This page will help you determine whether you are eligible for benefits, how to file a claim for unemployment, how to calculate your weekly benefit amount, and how to challenge a denial of benefits. You'll also find information about the federal and state unemployment laws that have changed in response to the coronavirus crisis, and links to your state’s unemployment agency.