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Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: Changes under COVID-19


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The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. It contained $2.2 trillion in emergency assistance, including enhanced unemployment benefits, as well as direct cash payments to qualifying individuals (economic impact payments), loans to small businesses, provisions to address medical supply shortages, extended funding and authorization for various health care programs, and targeted assistance to specific sectors of the economy.


The CARES Act expanded Unemployment Insurance Benefits through three different programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – increasing the amount of weekly benefits a qualifying individual may receive;
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – expanding the type of worker that can qualify for Unemployment Insurance;
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – increasing the number of weeks a qualifying individual can receive benefits.

The Benefits Plus Learning Center’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic

The information found in the COVID-19 section of Benefits Plus is available at no cost from the Community Service Society of New York in an effort to support professionals who are working with vulnerable population groups during this emergency.

Caution: The information contained in this chapter is subject to change as federal, state and local governments implement laws and policies. Changes are occurring rapidly and as the U.S. Congress and New York State pass new laws and procedures we make every attempt to keep the information up to date. As the Learning Center learns of these changes we review and update the information herein; however, we do not claim that all changes and updates have been captured. Readers are able to view what the Learning Center has captured by clicking on “Show Updates” in the upper right-hand corner of the title bar of each chapter.

Many of the programs and benefits that are covered in the COVID-19 section of Benefits Plus are programs and benefits that existed before the Coronavirus pandemic. Changes to the program or benefit or the relaxation of the rules vary by program and are temporary. To access information on a particular benefit, you must subscribe to the Benefits Plus. For subscription information click here. To learn more about Benefits Plus, visit: