Covid relief bill offers 11 weeks of extra unemployment benefits, $300 boost and a supplement for some gig workers

  • Congress reached a $900 billion Covid relief deal Sunday that extends and enhances unemployment benefits.
  • The package would pay an extra 11 weeks of benefits to individuals in two expiring CARES Act programs — Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.
  • The bill would pay a $300 weekly enhancement to benefits for all workers. It would also offer an additional $100 a week for some self-employed and gig workers.

Unemployed workers would get an extra 11 weeks of jobless benefits and a $300 weekly enhancement to aid payments as part of a Covid relief deal Congress reached Sunday.

Certain self-employed and gig workers would also get an extra $100 a week, according to a document summarizing the legislation.

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The 11-week timeline is less than the amount offered by a bipartisan package released earlier this month. That bill would have paid extended and enhanced benefits for 16 weeks, to mid-April.

In all, the $900 billion compromise package, the result of frenzied negotiations ahead of a year-end benefits cliff for millions of workers, offers $120 billion in additional unemployment benefits.

There are more than 20 million Americans collecting unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department.

$300 weekly enhancement

The $300 boost is available to all workers receiving unemployment benefits, like the prior $600 weekly supplement provided by the CARES Act that lapsed in July.

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The subsidy comes on top of the aid workers receive each week and is available through March 14. It's not retroactive.

PUA and PEUC extended

The legislation would also extend two programs created by the CARES Act: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which pays benefits to self-employed, gig, freelance and part-time workers generally ineligible for state unemployment insurance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which pays extra weeks of benefits to individuals who exhausted their state benefits.

The legislation would extend these programs by 11 weeks, to mid-March, allowing individuals to receive a maximum 50 weeks of benefits.

Both programs are set to expire this weekend. Even if the legislation becomes law, there will likely be at least a short gap in benefits for many of the 14 million people receiving aid through them.

$100 boost for the self-employed

Some self-employed, gig and other workers who have both wage (i.e., W-2) and self-employment (i.e., 1099) income will also be eligible for an additional $100 a week.

Many such individuals are receiving unemployment benefits at a low level due to how their benefits have been calculated. States base their benefit level solely on wages reported on their annual W-2 tax forms, without accounting for self-employment income, which may be much higher.

The bill also offers direct economic relief for individuals via stimulus checks of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 a year, $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, and an extra $600 for dependent children.

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