• David Omer

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits

***Click here for an absolutely free copy of our white paper on COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits.***

If you hadn't already noticed, the COVID-19 pandemic is making its presence felt more and more throughout the world; not only in terms of the disease itself, but also in its drastic impact on our social lives, the stock market, and our workplaces. All signs indicate that, unfortunately, this is going to last more than a couple of weeks.

What that means for a lot of us - especially those in service industries - is that finances could get tight down the road as hours are cut and positions are laid off. This is certain to be a trying time for many of our neighbors.

If you're experiencing a work shortage and/or feeling the resultant squeeze in your wallet, you do have options. This past Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 118, mandating inter alia that access to unemployment benefits would be significantly expanded due to the COVID-19 crisis. The relevant portion of EO118 authorizes and directs the NC Department of Commerce to "interpret flexibly" (how's that for a lawyer-ism?) or waive several requirements that have traditionally been strictly required in order to receive benefits, including a one-week waiting period and requirements that the applicant be actively searching for a job, as well as being willing and able to work.

What do I need in order to apply?

In order to apply for unemployment benefits, you'll need the following:

1. Your social security number;

2. Information from your former employer regarding the circumstances of your separation, including any PTO or severance pay that you have received or will receive;

3. Details about your work history for the two years preceding the application; and

4. Your routing and account number if you want your benefits deposited directly into your bank account.

If you're a non-citizen, federal employee within the past two years, or military member, there are other things you'll need as well. Give us a call and we can get into the details.

How do I know if I'm eligible?

Traditionally, in order to qualify for unemployment benefits, you need to meet four criteria:

1. You are unemployed by no fault of your own;

2. You must have earned sufficient wages at your previous job to establish a claim;

3. You are physically fit, willing, and actively seeking work; and

4. You have registered for work with the appropriate entity.

Again, Governor Cooper's Executive Order changes this up a little bit. Not only is the third requirement temporarily loosened/waived, but the first requirement has been expanded. Under EO118, you qualify if you have (i) lost your job, (ii) had your hours reduced, or (iii) lost your ability to work because of a medical condition or a direct quarantine order.

How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply is online. You'll create an account, activate it, sign in, and complete the questionnaire to submit your application. If you don't have access to a computer, you can also apply by phone at (888) 737-0259.

If you have questions, give us a call. We'll help walk you through the application, absolutely free of charge. Be healthy, and be safe.

*This information is solely for the purpose of educating and edifying the reader. Neither the publication nor dissemination of the information contained herein is intended to create an attorney-client relationship in any form whatsoever.

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