Coronavirus Relief Bill: Congress Provides $300 More Per Week to Unemployed

In mid-December 2020, Congress passed a bill containing $900 billion in Covid-related support for American workers and businesses. Here are the details.

After months of haggling between Democrats and Republicans over a new coronavirus relief package, in mid-December 2020 Congress passed a bill containing $900 billion in Covid-related support for American workers and businesses. Despite threatening a veto over the size of stimulus payments Americans would receive, President Trump signed the law at the end of December.

The relief package gives unemployed workers a federal unemployment supplement of $300 per week, on top of whatever their state provides, for up to 11 weeks. The CARES Act, the historic rescue package passed in March 2020, had previously provided a federal supplement of $600 per week, but that provision expired at the end of July.

The new law also extends two unemployment programs created by the CARES Act that were set to expire at the end of 2020.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program allows freelancers, gig workers, and other self-employed individuals to qualify for unemployment benefits, as well as those who can't work because they're ill, under quarantine, or caring for children whose schools have closed.

In addition, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program provides for 13 additional weeks of federally-funded benefits when state payments expire (usually after 26 weeks).

Unless extended, both programs—the PUA and the PEUC—will close to new claimants on March 14, 2021, and expire for existing claimants on April 5, 2021.

Finally, the new law provides for another round of stimulus checks to Americans, this time in the amount of $600 per adult. However, President Trump and many in Congress would like to see the amount increased to as much as $2,000 per adult.