How to get unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Many of you have already started to apply for unemployment, and you have so many questions. Let’s see if we can help you. 

Let’s talk about the “Cares Act” first, or what we also know as the $2 trillion coronavirus response bill. Washington has given it the go-ahead, but the states are still waiting for instructions, according to the Georgia Department of Labor. It’s coming, but not yet. When it gets here, here are three takeaways to highlight.  

3 HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CARES ACT if you are unemployed:

  1. $600 a week in addition to state unemployment check
  2. 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, in addition to the state’s 26 weeks
  3. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance includes self-employed, contract and gig workers. 

OK, let’s talk about Georgia. The state is experiencing record claims. They have half the staff to do this with. New unemployment figures will be out Thursday. Brace yourselves. Labor expects the claims to be as much as three times the highest claim point during the last recession. So let’s figure out how to help you. 

How to file for unemployment in Georgia if your job has been impacted by COVID-19

INDIVIDUAL CLAIM: If you are filing for unemployment as an individual – not through your employer -- then the process is slow. It’s for two-three weeks. 

EMPLOYER CLAIM: If your employer says you are laid off then this method is faster. There’s a 48-72 hour claims process. And, your employer does all of the heavy lifting here, not you. This is most of the cases out there. 

I just spoke with a 22-year-old restaurant worker who got laid off, but her boss told her she could stay on and work ‘to go’ delivery. She didn’t know if that might impact her unemployment. Well, just last week the Georgia Department of Labor said you can make up to $300 a week – up from 50 bucks – and still draw full unemployment.

Callie Maloney said she is very relieved to hear this. 

“Now that I know the information, and it’s straight from the source, I can go and tell my co-workers about it and let everybody know.”