November 6, 2020 - Douglas Myser

No stimulus means stalled tax recovery. Prior to the CARES act, freelance workers, gig workers, those who were self employed, were all ineligible for unemployment benefits. After passage of the CARES act, those workers became eligible for the $600 in federal unemployment weekly benefits, which expired in July. They were also eligible for state unemployment benefits that were calculated based on the weekly unemployment benefits in their state. These state level benefits, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, expire December 31. On January 1st, more than 11 million Americans will see their benefits reduced to zero. The only way many of these Americans could still qualify for unemployment benefits is if they have a history of W-2 work, meaning that they would have worked a traditional job where their employer reported their earnings to the government. That is the main way of proving that you qualify for unemployment insurance. No stimulus means stalled tax recovery.

There seems to be a growing consensus on Capital Hill that some type of relief needs to happen, but with the election so close, the entire process has now become a political issue. Caught in the middle are the American people. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies to people who have to stay away from their job because they have to quarantine. The law also applies to workers who need to stay home to take care of a loved one, like a child who's suddenly stuck at home due to a school closure.

Pay amounts depend on whether the leave has to do with medical reasons or family care. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can apply for exemption from the law if they can say granting leave will jeopardize business operations. A range of state and local laws might also kick in for workers looking for paid time off, but experts note coverage under those statutes are not a given.