CARES Act: Expansion of Unemployment Benefits

CARES Act:  Expansion of Unemployment Benefits

briefing by Tracey Martin, CPA & Brian Boswell, CPA


North Carolina Update – 266,709 COVID-19 Related Claims through March 30th:

There are several new resources available on the NC Department of Commerce Employment Security website regarding COVID-19.  With Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 118, there were changes to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for NC workers impacted by COVID-19 (see tip sheet here).  These include waiving of the one-week waiting period for benefits and the work search requirements.  Use of the online application is encouraged.

The state is awaiting guidance from the federal government regarding the additional $600 (PUC) assistance, noting that any benefits owed will be paid retroactively.  The state is also awaiting guidance on the implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program as it relates to independent contractors and self-employed workers who are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in NC.

We will continue to update this as additional information regarding UI is released.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) signed into law on March 27th will have an immediate impact on unemployment compensation.  Of the $2 trillion economic stimulus package, an estimated $260 billion is set aside for enhanced and expanded unemployment insurance to millions of workers who find themselves furloughed, laid off or without work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This subsection is referred to in the Act as the “Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act”.

We have included highlights below and will continue to update this blog post as additional details become available.

Expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI)

  • Expands state benefits to include additional Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) of $600 per week. PUC is a flat amount for all who are eligible for UI.
  • Expands the state’s time period for receiving UI to include Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PECU) for an additional 13 weeks. In most states, this provides a total of 36 weeks of UI.
  • Effectively removes the one-week waiting period by fully reimbursing states that waive the waiting period for UI.
  • Expands the definition of worker to include those not usually eligible for state UI including self-employed individuals, independent contractors and those with limited work history through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA, which includes up to 39 weeks of pay from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020, is not available to individuals who other-wise qualify for state UI.

Those qualifying for PUA self-certify that they are partially or fully unemployed OR unable and unavailable to work because of one of the following circumstances:

  1. They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are seeking diagnosis;
  2. A member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  3. They are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19;
  4. They are providing care for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to COVID-19;
  5. They are quarantined or have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine;
  6. They were scheduled to start employment and do not have a job or cannot reach their place of employment as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak;
  7. They have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  8. They had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  9. Their place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  10. They meet other criteria established by the Secretary of Labor

If you find yourself in need of the above benefits or have questions about eligibility, reach out to your BRC advisor.   We will navigate these unchartered waters together.

Tracey Martin-4970

Tracey Flynn Martin Partner, CPA

Tracey has more than 31 years of experience as a CPA and is a tax and consulting partner in our Wilmington office. She applies her knowledge and practical ideas to meet the needs of firm clients from both a business and tax perspective. Tracey leads our Firm’s Outsourced Accounting & Advisory service line, as […]