In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Congress is adding federal unemployment benefits of $300 for at least 10 weeks — possibly 11. Details can get complicated, however, and because the bill was signed at the last minute, there is some uncertainty about how long the benefits will run, but the Department of Labor has already said it does not think eligible applicants will lose a week because the bill was signed late.

Workers are eligible for a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit. The measure extends two other pandemic unemployment programs that were created in the CARES Act in March that were set to expire at year’s end. As with the prior aid package, gig workers and others who don’t ordinarily qualify for benefits would be eligible for the jobless aid.

The legislation would extend to 50 weeks the amount of time that workers may claim benefits through both state and federal programs. Most states typically provide 26 weeks of jobless benefits.

The measure provides an additional $100-a-week benefit for workers with both wage and self-employment income whose basic unemployment benefits don’t account for their self-employment income.

Most states pay benefits for 26 weeks, though some offer less. After that, the CARES Act had extended benefits by 13 weeks. The latest package would tack on 11 more weeks, bringing the total extension to 24 weeks for anyone receiving either state benefits or pandemic unemployment assistance. This federal extension would end on March 14 unless you haven’t already reached your benefit maximum. Then, the benefits would continue to April 5.

Also, check your state to see if it has its own extended-benefits program, independent of the new federal law.

The new law will help unemployed people who have both self-employment and traditional job wages. These people are often stuck with a lower state-issued benefit based on their (lower) wages, explains The New York Times. The agreement will provide an additional federal benefit of $100 weekly to individuals who have earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income but are not eligible for the more generous Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit (established under the CARES Act) because they’re eligible for state benefits.

If your benefits have already run out, check your state’s website for further instructions about the next steps. The states will probably reinstate them automatically, but it may take a few weeks. And of course, get in touch with us if you have any questions about your situation.

As we have been doing with all coronavirus legislation and IRS and SBA guidance during these past several months, we will be sure to update you with any additional insight as soon as possible. Continue to check back here for the most up to date tax information and changes in response to coronavirus. If you have questions about this or related topics contact an MCB Advisor at 703-218-3600 or click here. 

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