CARES ACT and Unemployment: Questions and Answers

Posted by Daniel A. Testa III | Mar 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES” Act), which greatly expanded the scenarios in which those now unemployed are eligible to receive unemployment compensation, if unemployment is due to COVID-19.  

Of particular note, the CARES Act extends coverage not just to those that were traditionally employed but also to those individuals who were self-employed, independent contractors, 1099 filers, and farmers affected by COVID-19.  The CARES Act also temporarily increases the traditional unemployment benefit amount by $600.00 per week.  Below are answers to some pressing questions:

  • I am traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, what do I do?

          Apply for unemployment through the New York State Department of labor at

  • I would normally not be eligible for unemployment benefits, what do I do?

          Eligibility for unemployment benefits have been greatly expanded.  Realtors, Hairstylists, Massage Therapists, Gig Workers, Independent Contractors… any profession that may not normally qualify now does. Apply for unemployment through the New York State Department of labor at

  • What will my benefit amount be? 

          Your unemployment benefit will be the amount you would qualify for based on your income PLUS an additional $600.00 per week.  Example:  You qualify for a weekly benefit of $400.00 based on your income, you will receive your weekly benefit of $400.00 plus an additional $600.00 for a total of $1000.00 per week.

  • How long will I receive the additional $600.00 per week?

          You will receive the additional $600.00 per week beginning April 5, 2020 through July 31, 2020.

  • How long will I receive my regular unemployment benefit?

          The program goes retroactive to January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020 for a maximum of 39 weeks.

  • What if I have been unable to make my claim but have been unemployed for 2 weeks?

         The program goes retroactive to January 27, 2020.

  • What if I have already exhausted 26 weeks of unemployment benefits before the crisis started?

         You may still qualify to receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits PLUS the additional $600.00 per week from April 5, 2020 through July 31, 2020.

  • Do I actively have to look for work?

         No, the CARES Act does not require that an individual demonstrate that they are actively looking for employment.

The CARES ACT also provides for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUI) for an individual that can no longer work because of the following situations:

  • Was diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis
  • Has a member in their household that has been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Is providing care to a family or household member with COVID-19
  • Is a primary caregiver for a child that is unable to attend school due to COVID-19
  • Is unable to reach their place of employment because of a quarantine or because he/she has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine
  • Became a breadwinner because the head of household has died from COVID-19
  • Has had to quit work as a result of Covid-19
  • His or her place of employment has closed as a direct result of a COVID-19 public health emergency
  • It also covers those seeking part-time employment or those with insufficient work history affected by COVID-1

 You can find out more by visiting

About the Author

Daniel A. Testa III

Daniel graduated from Union Springs High School in 1992. He graduated from the University at Albany in 1998 with a B.A. in public policy and a minor in public administration; he received his Juris Doctor from the University of Buffalo Schoo...


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As an Auburn, NY native, and an active member in the community, Testa Law Firm practitioner Daniel A. Testa III believes that it should be a priority to make the community that we live and work in better. From being a member on the Union Springs school board to sponsoring a travel baseball team, he exemplifies a genuine love for our community that extends outside of his excellent representation.

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