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What to Know About the CARES Act

March 31, 2020

The CARES Act, the economic relief bill signed into law on Friday, provides much-needed temporary support for American workers impacted by COVID-19. It dedicates $250 billion to give workers more access to unemployment benefits during this public health emergency. The CARES Act also includes:

  • Creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program
    • Self-employed and independent contractors are eligible
    • Furloughed workers are eligible
  • Expands coverage to more workers, including self-employed, contractors, and furloughed workers
  • Increases by $600/week Americans’ unemployment benefits for the next 4 months
  • Makes available 13 additional weeks of unemployment for those who need it
  • Waives the normal one-week waiting period
  • Includes funding to offset 50% of the costs of state and local government and non-profits for the cost of paying unemployment to their workers
  • Supports short-time, work-share programs as an alternative to layoffs

How much do unemployed workers get?

Generally, a person’s benefits replace about 1/3 to 1/2 of their wages. In Washington state, the minimum one can receive on unemployment is $188 and the maximum is $790. The CARES Act provides an additional $600 per week on top of whatever a person would normally receive – limited to the next 4 months (expires July 31, 2020). This will end up providing a higher than average wage replacement rate for low-wage workers.

How long do unemployment benefits last?

Washington state provides access to unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. The CARES Act provides federal funding for an additional 13 weeks for those who need it. Funding for this expires December 31, 2020.

Are unemployment benefits taxable and do they count as income?

Yes. Unemployment benefits are taxable income and generally count as income when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.

Are there classes available for more information on the CARES Act?

Yes. BIAW in partnership with JB Consulting Systems, LLC, and JJ BizWorks, Inc. created a 90-minute webinar that will cover information you need to know as an employer to make choices about your business and your employees. We will address components of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Relief Act), including grants, loans, tax credits, an overview of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and Washington state unemployment options.

The classes will be held:

For more information or to register for a free webinar, click here »

What does unemployment insurance look like in my state?

For more information and to see if you’re eligible or how to apply for unemployment in Washington state, click here.

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