The $2 Trillion CARES Act was passed by Congress contains additional help for workers who lost jobs because of the coronavirus. It was a federal bill, but the NC Department of Employment Security (DES) is the agency that processes claims and issues checks. In the last three weeks, over 450,000 unemployment claims have been files with DES.
Before the CARES Act, the maximum benefit in NC was $350 per week. With the CARES Act in place, additional money is available plus many people who were NOT eligible before will be eligible now for unemployment caused by coronavirus.
- Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC): This program provides an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits paid for weeks after March 29, 2020. The program is slated to end July 31, 2020. DES received Federal guidelines about this program Saturday and is now programming their system to handle these claims and checks. They believe the system will be operational next week. Once the system is in place, individuals who qualify will receive the additional $600/week retroactively. These checks will begin flowing in a couple weeks.
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): This program provides up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment insurance benefits (beyond the normal 12-week period).
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This program will provide coverage to eligible self-employed workers, independent contractors, and individuals with short work histories who are not typically eligible for unemployment compensation. DES received the 43-page document with rules about this program last weekend. The complexity of the program will require a few weeks for DES to set up the application process and begin processing checks.
If you are able to work from home or accept paid leave, then you are not eligible to file for unemployment benefits.