What to expect when you apply for unemployment during COVID-19

I’m sorry to hear that you lost your job and now must navigate the challenges of Unemployment Insurance. You may encounter busy phone lines, an inability to speak to a live person, and state unemployment website issues. This will depend on what state you live in and when you filed. Presently over 42 million are out of work and seeking unemployment, which exacerbates these problems.

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUI) will likely replace most or all your earnings temporarily. However, it might take a month or more for funds to arrive. If you have become unemployed, I recommend that you immediately apply for Unemployment Insurance. Apply for the existing Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, and the New Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (an extra $600 per month under the CARES Act). Depending on your state, these program applications may be bundled together into a single application or separate. Either way, you apply for all of them via your state’s UI Agency. Find your state’s UI Agency at this website.

It will likely take at least three weeks after your application is approved for your first payment to arrive. So apply in the first week that you are without work or have had your hours cut. Because of the many and significant changes to UI, you should forget what you thought you knew about the program. Even if you have never qualified for UI before or think you are not going to qualify, go ahead and apply.