CARES Act benefits boost set to expire July 31st

The Coronavirus Aid, Response and Economic Security (CARES) Act significantly expanded unemployment insurance as a lifeline for those included in the most devastating unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. But one major provision, an additional $600 per week for the unemployed, is set to expire at the end of July.

Even if Congress doesn’t renew the weekly unemployment boost, some extended unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act will continue.

Unemployment benefits are a joint effort between federal and state governments. In most states, unemployment benefits last for up to 26 weeks. But the CARES Act extended eligibility to 39 weeks total.

These weeks are covered first through regular unemployment insurance (UI) through the state, and then an additional 13 weeks of federally funded Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC). These benefits kick in for individuals who exhaust their regular state benefits.

For states that continue to have high unemployment rates, additional weeks of federally funded extended benefits will be available (up to 13 or 20 weeks, depending on state laws). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), these extended benefits have been triggered in 44 states as of June 1. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is only available for a period of unemployment of up to 39 weeks, so if you received regular UI and PEUC benefits that in total are fewer than 39 weeks, PUA will kick in to cover the remaining weeks.

Under current law, PEUC or PUA benefits will not be paid after Dec. 31.