CARES Act Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits FAQ's

What is happening?

The CARES Act is a $2 trillion relief bill that expands the range of workers that are eligible for unemployment benefits, and includes self-employed people and part-time workers. More citizens are now eligible for benefits than ever before, and are eligible for a longer period.

How much will I receive?

It depends. The program gives eligible unemployed workers an additional $600 per week in addition to their state benefits, lasting until the end of July. Your total amount received depends on the amount which your state pays you for normal unemployment benefits – add $600 to this and you will calculate your total amount received. Notably, everyone is entitled to the full $600 extra payment, regardless of their state unemployment compensation amount. For example, if Maryland pays an unemployed worker $400 per week, then their total unemployment compensation will now be $1,000 per week until July 31st.

Are gig workers and independent contractors covered?

Yes, self-employed people are now eligible for unemployment benefits for a maximum of 39 weeks through the pandemic unemployment assistance program, administered through your state government. Income will be calculated. Self-employed workers will similarly receive the $600 weekly benefit from the federal government. Applicants should contact their state Unemployment Insurance office.

What about part-time workers?

Part-time workers who are unemployed for coronavirus-related reasons are eligible for state benefits and the additional $600 weekly payment. Again, this is managed through your state Unemployment Insurance office.

Who is not covered?

Workers who can work from home, are receiving paid sick leave, or are receiving paid family leave are not covered under the expanded program. Workers recently entering the workforce who cannot find jobs and undocumented workers are also not eligible.

Will those already on unemployment receive any help?

Yes, those already on unemployment benefits will have their state benefits extended by 13 weeks and receive the additional $600 weekly.

How long do I have to wait?

While states have been incentivized with federal funding to remove the one week waiting period, a flood of new applicants is slowing the process. We encourage you to apply as soon as you are eligible given these wait times.

Are benefits taxable?

Yes, state and federal benefits under the program  are subject to federal income tax and most state income taxes.

I have more questions.

Email us for free CARES Act guidance at

Published April 19th, 2020

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