Coronavirus relief: What's the max unemployment benefit under the CARES Act?

In some states, certain individuals could see their weekly checks increase to more than $1,000

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Many Americans are struggling to adapt to new circumstances in the labor market as coronavirus prevention measures have caused businesses around the country to shut down their operations.

That means people are losing their jobs – or seeing hours reduced – leading to financial strain.

Over the course of two weeks alone, 10 million Americans filed for unemployment – a number that will rise over the coming weeks.

The positive news is that the federal government approved a massive, multitrillion-dollar stimulus package with a slew of programs designed to provide resources to everyday Americans, including a historic boost to unemployment benefits.

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Eligible Americans who are out of work entirely or underemployed because of reasons related to coronavirus can receive an additional $600 per week for as many as four months.

Baseline benefits vary by state and income level, but the average benefit is around $364, according to data from the American Action Forum. That means the average person would see their benefit rise to $964.

However, in some states the checks will be more generous.

California Gov. Newsom said during a press briefing that in his state workers could be eligible to receive as much as $1,000 per week under the bolstered assistance plan. Weekly benefits in the state range from $50 to $450, meaning an individual could potentially receive $1,050.

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In New York, where the coronavirus has taken a big toll on residents, the maximum benefit is $504 – so an individual could receive $1,104 under the new program.

In New Jersey, the maximum an individual could receive with the extra $600 is $1,313 ($713 + $600), while it is $1,390 in Washington state ($790 + $600).

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In addition to a bump in benefits, the stimulus package provides for an additional 13 weeks offered by the federal government after state benefits are no longer available through the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. That means for a state with 26 weeks of coverage, the total would be extended to 39 weeks.

Beyond those out of work or underemployed for a wide variety of coronavirus-related reasons, benefits will be expanded to the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers and others through a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This would provide as many as 39 weeks’ worth of benefits to workers who wouldn’t traditionally qualify but have found themselves out of work, unable to work or with reduced hours as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The IRS is also working on sending out $1,200 stimulus checks to American households, which are expected to hit direct deposit accounts beginning at the start of next week.

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