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Summary of Unemployment Benefits Provision of the Stimulus Package

The Congress just passed and the President signed the CARES Act, also known as the Stimulus Package.  The package has a number of elements, one element extends currently available unemployment benefits 13 weeks for a total of 39 weeks and pays each qualified individual an additional $600.00 a week above and beyond the currently available State benefits. 

These unemployment benefits are available for employees (as is typical under unemployment benefits) but also these additional benefits are available to the self-employed, independent contractors (1099 workers) and gig economy workers.

Individuals are eligible for these new and extended benefits IF the individual self-certifies under penalty of perjury that they are otherwise able to work and available to work but they are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable or unavailable to work because:

  • the individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
  • individual is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • the individual is the primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • a member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • the individual has to quit his job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • the individual cannot reach her job because a health care provider has advised her to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 OR the individual cannot reach her place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency; or,
  • the individual has become the major breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.  {Presumably this one applies to individuals with no previous work history.}.

An individual is not qualified to receive these benefits if they have the ability to telework with pay OR the individual is receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, regardless of whether the individual meets any of the other qualifications.

Individuals who lie about their health condition or about any other factual basis to qualify to receive these benefits will have to repay any benefits they receive and are subject to prosecution for making a false statement to obtain federal benefits, 18 USC 1001.  The penalty for violating this section include fines, restitution, and imprisonment up to 5 years in federal prison.

The Secretary of Labor is expected to issue regulations to provide addition details and clarifications of how this program will be administered.

A special thanks to Congressman David Kustoff and his staff for help in contributing to the content of this bulletin. 

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