COVID-19 Rescue Bill Boosts Unemployment: How to File

Apr 3 2020

COVID-19 is causing record numbers of Americans to apply for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Since March 23, over 504,000 people in Connecticut applied for UI benefits. In the last two months, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), temporarily expanding UI eligibility benefits to self-employed workers, 1099 employees, “gig” workers, workers in jobs not covered by regular unemployment benefits, and independent contracts impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The current maximum weekly benefit for a Connecticut resident is $649. If you qualify for PUA benefits, there is a weekly minimum benefit of $198. The CARES Act provides unemployed workers who otherwise qualify for state UI or PUA benefits with an additional $600 a week, under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). The FPUC payment is in effect until July 25, 2020. After your claim for UI benefits is approved, you do not need to take any additional action to automatically receive the additional FPUC payment of $600 per week until July 25.

Who is Eligible to Collect and For How Long?

Remember, the Department of Labor, not your employer, determines UI eligibility on a case by case basis. The CT DOL issues new guidance frequently. Check back for updates as they become available.

Employees may be eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits under the CARES Act. If you are working remotely or receiving paid leave benefits from some other source, you are likely ineligible for benefits. Have your work hours been cut as a result of COVID-19? You may be eligible for UI benefits or PUA benefits at a pro-rated partial workweek reduction.

With the state partially reopening on May 20, some employees receiving UI benefits may return to work at reduced or partial hours. You should still file for UI benefits each week. Simply report the amount earned when prompted and, if eligible, you will continue to receive partial benefits. So long as you are still eligible for any state UI or PUA benefit, you will continue to receive the $600 FPUC payment through July 25.

Self-employed people cannot apply for PUA benefits if they have any reported W2 wages. The DOL cautions self-employed people who have other reported W2 wages from filing for UI benefits because they may be awarded benefits they are ultimately asked to repay.

Many employees cannot go back to work due to COVID-19. Under normal circumstances, in order to collect UI benefits, an individual must be able and available to work. Under PUA, though, you might still be eligible to collect benefits if you cannot work because of circumstances that relate to COVID-19. Here are examples:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of the virus and seeking a medical opinion.
  • A member of your household was diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You are providing care for a family member diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Your child is unable to attend school or daycare as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • You are unable to reach your physical place of employment due to a quarantine imposed because of COVID-19.
  • You have to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your employer closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

Normally, persons receiving UI benefits must complete weekly work-searches to receive their benefits. In Connecticut, work-search requirements have been waived indefinitely.

The DOL has not issued guidance on whether an employee who refuses to work due to an increased risk to someone else in their household contracting COVID-19 is eligible for benefits.

Have you exhausted your UI benefits sometime after July 1, 2019 and are still unemployed? Apply for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits today because you may be eligible for the additional 13 weeks of benefits, plus the additional $600 per week in benefits until July 25.

How Do I Collect Unemployment or PUA benefits in Connecticut?

 Be sure to file as soon as you become unemployed. Do not wait. You do not need paperwork from your employer to file. Filing quickly, following the prompts carefully and selecting direct deposit for payment will help expedite your claim and decrease delay.

If you are unemployed due to COVID-19 for any reason, you should file for unemployment benefits by following the steps below.

Step 1. Go to You can file using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Click the blue link “File or Reopen Your Unemployment Claim” to start your claim. You will be prompted to enter personal identification information, information about your dependents, employer and your separation of employment.

If you are approved for benefits, GREAT! Each week, you must go to and click the green link “File Your Weekly Claim and Manage Your Unemployment Claim.” You must file weekly in order to receive benefits.

If you are denied benefits, are found monetarily ineligible or have exhausted your UI benefits proceed to Step 2.

Step 2. Go to Click the red link “File here for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUA).” Remember, you cannot apply for PUA benefits until you have applied for regular UI benefits first.

Step 3. On the right-hand side of the page, click “Instructions, and File PUA.”

Step 4. Review the Instructions carefully, then click “Continue” at the bottom of the page.

Step 5. The next page lists the benefits and responsibilities for a person seeking PUA benefits. Read this page carefully, as you may need to upload documents to prove your earnings through self-employment, independent contracting or gig jobs. At the bottom of the page, click “Proceed to ReEmployCT.”

Step 6. Complete the application process and wait for your determination. Remember, if you are approved, you must continue to file weekly claims to be paid benefits.

Know Your Employment Rights in Connecticut

Whether you are navigating unemployment or are questioning the actions of your employer in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have rights.

Contact the workers’ rights and workplace fairness lawyers of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C.

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