Can small businesses apply for unemployment assistance during COVID-19 pandemic? Find your answer here

Unemployment benefits are traditionally available for employers who lose a job through no fault of their own. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of businesses suffered losses because of insufficient financial resources to keep the business afloat.

Can small businesses apply for unemployment

If you are one of them who is forced to put locks on your business or you foresee that you have to do this in the future, then you might wonder if you have any rights to claim for unemployment aid or can small businesses apply for unemployment assistance?

According to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, small businesses affected by the pandemic are eligible for unemployment assistance.

Before the CARES Act, it was not possible to apply for unemployment assistance, but thanks to the House that plays its role in addressing the issue. Not only CARES, but you can also apply for other unemployment assistance programs depending on the state you live in. Here’s what you can expect if you have shut your small business and want to apply for unemployment assistance.

Unemployment eligibility as a Business owner

As a small business owner, when you were forced to close your business, you bore a significant loss of income. Therefore, there’s help for you. Scott Behren from The Behren Law Firm Weston, Florida says that if you have halted the business operations of your business due to a natural disaster or global pandemic situation whilst you have paid and filed payroll and unemployment taxes, you can easily make unemployment claims.

It’s also crucial to consider here that the US Department of Labor keeps changing the laws, and according to the new rules, you can claim for unemployment not only that your small business is closed, but if:

  • Business closes because of a natural disaster or pandemic
  • You are isolated due to COVID symptoms and expect to work later
  • You left your job to prevent yourself from exposure or want to protect your ill family member/s

The basics of unemployment benefits

The term ‘unemployment benefits’ is used for unemployment insurance, which means to offer financial assistance to those who lose their employment not because of their fault. It can be a joint assistance program between the state and federal government to deliver out-of-work US citizens a cash pillow to fall on.

The requirements for these unemployment cash benefits can differ due to several factors such as how long you have been unemployed and in what conditions you have to leave your job. For example, if you’re unemployed just because you were fired due to the poor performance by your employer and your employment record holds you back from getting another employment, you are not eligible for the benefits.

How much can you expect to get from an unemployment claim?

The amount you can expect to receive from an unemployment claim will depend on the income you previously received and can differ depending on where you reside. The ones who become eligible for the unemployment benefit will receive an additional $600 from the Federal government every week for four months. This federal cash assistance will be provided apart from any benefit provided by your state.

For instance, if you work in California, and you are self-employed and out-of-work due to the Coronavirus pandemic, you will receive $450 as a state benefit amount each week. Adding the federal cash assistance of $600, every eligible Californian can expect to receive $1050 per week.

How to apply for Unemployment pandemic assistance

If you find yourself eligible to receive unemployment insurance, your cash assistance will be processed through your local unemployment office. Many states are still updating their UI rules and are in the process of filling in the information about the benefits. For further information about state benefits status, you should make a call at:

  • TTYH 1-877-889-5627
  • 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-8-77-872-5627)

Moreover, the US Department of Labor’s official website directs you towards your state website where you find the information to apply online. You have to set up an account and provide the relevant and required information including:

  • Employer’s information (if available) and the current address
  • Previous Tax returns information
  • Last year’s pay stubs
  • Other employer information, which is required in the form so that the form would be sent to your employer to verify.

Extended COVID – 19 unemployment benefits

Through Coronavirus $2 trillion stimulus bill (CARES Act), the unemployment benefits have been extended to all unemployed workers which include independent contractors, freelancers, part-time workers, and gig workers. If coronavirus prevents you from earning sufficient income, then you can receive certain financial benefits.

Other financial assistance options for struggling business owners

If you are not an employee of your own business, then you can consider other ways to receive financial assistance at this time from:


How do you know if you qualify for unemployment benefits?

Unemployment assistance claims are designed to help workers who do not qualify for other programs as a result of unemployment. If you are not eligible to qualify for regular unemployment insurance plans, then you should apply for benefits under PUA. For this, you need to prove that the pandemic made you stop your business or your family member got COVID-19 for which you came under financial crisis. You then might become eligible to get benefits.

How long will unemployment benefits be paid?

The total number of weeks for which you would be able to receive unemployment benefits varies according to the state you reside in. According to an extended CARES act, the benefits were extended to 13 weeks for the unemployed workers, The American Rescue Act plan Act extended to 29 weeks, as for PUA benefits, they are committed to capping 86 weeks which is going to end on September 6, 2021.

How much unemployment benefit will you receive?

The amount you will receive as an unemployment benefit depends on the last amount you earned and the state you worked in. You can expect to get at least your state allotted unemployment benefit amount.

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