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How to get benefits and medical insurance if you are left without work during a pandemic

According to data released on March 24 by the Institute for Economic Policy (EPI), between March 16 and 22 in the United States more workers applied for unemployment benefits than for any other week in the history of the country, writes telesurtv.net.

Photo: Shutterstock

“It will go around any other week in history,” writes Aaron Sojourner and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham of EPI. “The true consequences are undoubtedly larger than those described here.”

The estimate is based on applications filed March 15–21 in 35 states and Washington, DC, and is extrapolated to the remaining 15 states, as the country is still experiencing a rapid increase in coronavirus cases.

“Our model predicts that 3,4 million Americans submitted new applications for unemployment benefits last week, although we believe that this number could be as little as 3 million or, conversely, be significantly higher,” experts warn.

According to the report, only these statistics will increase the unemployment rate by more than half to 5,5%, returning to the 2015 level in just one week. For comparison, the largest monthly increase in unemployment in US history was about 1,3 percentage points in October 1949; this week would be 2,2.

And the numbers do not reflect the full reality, as the researchers explained that the actual statistics "could be significantly higher." Not all unemployed people can also apply for unemployment benefits, and those who do receive about half or less of their regular income.

Meanwhile, despite the advice of health experts and government officials, US President Donald Trump continues to argue that the country will be “open for business” as usual, starting April 12.

The World Health Organization has warned that the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the US could shift the center of a pandemic in the country.

How to apply for unemployment

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to close their doors and lay off employees. If you were fired from work, they will help you, writes WPXI.

Unemployment Benefit is a program that provides money to people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Each state administers its own program in accordance with federal regulations.

Here's what you need to do to apply for unemployment benefits.

Who is eligible to apply?

The state in which you live determines who is eligible for unemployment benefits, how much you can receive and how long your benefits will last. The federal government allows states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits if:

  • the employer temporarily ceases its activities due to COVID-19, preventing employees from entering the work;
  • the person is in quarantine pending returning to work after quarantine has ended;
  • a person leaves work because of the risk of infection, infection or caring for a family member.

In addition, federal law does not require an employee to be fired to receive benefits due to exposure to COVID-19.

How to apply?

You can apply online or by phone in most cases. To find out what your staff requires, go to this card and select your staff. You will be redirected to a website that will provide you with information about the state unemployment program.

Requirements vary by state, but most likely you will need:

  • social Security number;
  • driver’s license or ID number;
  • Full postal address, including street, city, state, and zip code
  • telephone number that can be contacted during office hours.
  • if you are not a US citizen, indicate the number of the alien registration card (if you have a card);
  • Full company names and addresses of all employers you have worked for in the past two years, including employers in another state;
  • your employer's registration number or federal employer identification number (FEIN) (if you have one);
  • if you were a federal employee, copies of forms SF8 and SF50, if you have performed federal work in the past 18 months;
  • if you are a serviceman or a former serviceman applying for benefits in connection with your military service, then a copy of your last form of dismissal DD 214;
  • if you can’t print out the confirmation of your unemployment benefit, carry a pen and paper to write down information about your application;
  • for states permitting (or requiring) direct deposit of your weekly unemployment benefits to your bank account, you must have an available check to enter data from it;
  • in states that use debit cards to pay unemployment benefits, you will receive information about the card, how it works, and when you will receive it.

How long do payments last?

Again, states determine how long they pay unemployment benefits. Some states provide extended unemployment benefits. Extended unemployment benefits last 13 weeks. You can apply for extended benefits only after your standard runs out, and it is important that you meet the requirements.

On the subject: Over 10 options: how to get financial assistance in the USA during the COVID-19 pandemic

How much will you get?

Each state, using the applicant’s previous earnings, has its own formula for calculating benefits.

USA.gov offers these resources if you need more help:

Continued Health Insurance

What is COBRA?

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families the right to continue group health care coverage with their health plan for a limited period of time.

There are three basic requirements that must be met:

  • Your group’s health plan must be covered by COBRA;
  • a qualifying event should occur (for example, voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in hours worked, transition between jobs, death or divorce);
  • You must be a qualified beneficiary for this event.

If you have the right to choose to continue COBRA coverage, you must be given a period of at least 60 days to choose whether to continue coverage.

How to get COBRA

Under COBRA, group health insurance plans must provide employees and their families with a notice explaining their rights under the COBRA program. Plans should also have rules on how COBRA continuation coverage is proposed, how qualified beneficiaries can choose to continue coverage, and when it can be discontinued.

For more information, see COBRA. Guide.

Disability allowance

If you cannot work because you are sick or injured, disability insurance will pay part of your income. You can get benefits through your employer. You can also buy a policy.

There are two types of disability policies:

  • Short-term policies can be calculated for up to two years. Most lasts from a few months to a year.
  • The long-term can pay benefits for several years or until the disability ends.

Two Social Security Administration programs provide benefits to people with disabilities. Learn about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Insurance (SSI).

Employee Compensation

Workers' compensation laws protect workers who are injured or sick at work. Laws establish workers' compensation, a form of insurance that employers pay for. These laws vary from state to state and for federal employees.

Benefits provided by compensation:

  • covering medical expenses of employees;
  • compensation for lost wages while the employee is recovering;
  • benefits for dependents of workers who have died due to work-related hazards.

If you have been injured while working for a private company, state, or local government, contact your state for assistance. State Compensation Program can help you apply. If your claim is denied, you can appeal.

Federal laws protect port workers, coal miners, and federal employees. Connect with compensation programto get help applying.

On the subject: Catastrophic unemployment and large-scale crisis: how a pandemic affects the economy of the United States and the world

Illegal Dismissal / Suspension

If you think you have been unlawfully dismissed or suspended from work, you can learn more about the laws on illegal dismissal in your state. Some states are “optional employment” states, which means that if there is no labor agreement (or collective agreement), the employer can release the employee for any reason or for no reason, with or without notice, until such dismissal violates law.

If you think that you were fired or suspended unlawfully:

  • Contact your state labor office for more information on the illegal layoff laws in your state;
  • Contact your legal adviser if your employer fired you for any reason not covered by state or federal law.

Support or temporary assistance to needy families (TANF)

Temporary Helping Needy Families (TANF) - State-funded State Benefit Program. Also known as Social Security, TANF helps families find independence after temporary hardships.

Recipients may qualify for assistance with:

  • nutrition;
  • housing;
  • child care;
  • vocational training and more.

Each state runs its own TANF program. in its own way and calls it differently, deciding who is entitled to financial assistance, services or other benefits. You must be a resident of the state in which you are applying.

To sign up for temporary benefits, you can:

  • apply to your local or county social services agency, or
  • call in state's TANF office for contact information.

Depending on your state, benefits are paid by check, card, or direct deposit. Payments are usually made weekly or bi-weekly.

The Internal Revenue Service accounts for unemployment benefits as income. Federal income tax and state tax may be withheld from your check.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Recession is not always bad: three positive aspects of the economic crisis

US Cash Crisis: Banks Restrict Withdrawals Due to COVID-19

5 large companies hiring new employees during the crisis with coronavirus

Financial assistance from the government to quarantined victims: who and how much will be able to receive

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