How To File For Unemployment During COVID-19

Were you recently laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19? If you’re seeking financial relief, unemployment benefits may be an option. 

The Labor Department claims surged to over 3 million in a week at the time this was written, alone. So, it’s essential to file a claim right away to access your benefits. And some states have eliminated waiting periods to help you get the money you need in your pocket sooner than later. 

Wondering if you qualify for unemployment, how to apply or if there are long wait times? Keep reading for the answer to these pressing questions and more. 

Who Qualifies For Unemployment 

For starters, you should know that each state has its own criteria for unemployment. In light of recent events, changes have been made to expedite the claims process. 

Use to find information that applies to your state. It’s offered by the U.S. Department of Labor to help you determine if you qualify. Here’s how it works: 

  • Visit the homepage, hover over “COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Info”, and select “File for unemployment.”
  • Review the general information. 
  • Scroll down to and select your state from the dropdown menu.
  • Links will appear that direct you to the general information and online filing pages.

If you qualify, you will receive a portion of your earnings over the last 52 weeks. This amount is capped at the maximum for your state and subject to income tax. Also, you will receive an additional $600 per week in federal emergency compensation until July 31, 2020. 

What if your benefits end and you haven’t secured employment or returned to work? Under the stimulus bill, you will be entitled to unemployment compensation for 13 additional weeks. And expanded benefits may also be available until December 2020. 

Below we’ve included general information for your reference. 

People Who Have Been Laid Off or Let Go 

If your employment was terminated as a result of COVID-19, you might qualify for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits also extend to those who were slated to start a job but couldn’t because the company scaled back or ceased operations. 


Furloughs are temporary layoffs, and workers are sometimes allowed to return to their positions. If you’ve been furloughed as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Independent Contractors

Most states don’t provide unemployment benefits to independent contractors. However, you may qualify for relief under the $2 trillion bill that grants Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to independent contractors, gig workers, and individuals who care for sick relatives or are out of work due to a coronavirus diagnosis or quarantine from direct exposure.

You will receive 50% of the average benefit paid out in your state plus an additional $600 from the federal stimulus package. 

How To Apply For Unemployment

Before the coronavirus outbreak, unemployment offices allowed you to file online, by phone or in-person. But many have closed for safety reasons, so the latter may not be available. 

Here’s what to expect when applying for benefits: 

1. Gather all the information you’ll need.  

Expedite the filing process by having the following on hand: 

  • Your Social Security card or documentation that displays the number 
  • Copies of your 2 most recent pay stubs
  • Proof that you’ve been laid off or furloughed by your employer

It’s also best to check your state’s unemployment website to determine if additional information or documentation is needed to file a claim. 

2. Decide how you want to file. 

Filing online is the most efficient way to move forward. If you call the unemployment hotline, expect wait times that span several minutes or even hours. 

When completing the claim, refrain from using the word “fired” if an explanation is required. It conveys to the person processing your claim that you’re responsible for what happened when stagnant operations as a result of COVID-19 are the culprit. 

3. Check the status of your claim.

You can monitor your claim through your state’s online unemployment portal. If possible, check on the status daily to ensure they have everything needed to process and approve your claim. 

What if your claim is denied? Promptly file an appeal to plead your case. The notice will include instructions on how to move forward. 

Unemployment Wait Times During COVID-19

Once your claim is complete and you’re approved for benefits, expect to receive your first payment in 2 to 3 weeks. However, delays may occur in states that are inundated with claims, so you may experience longer than usual wait times until the unemployment agents can clear the backlog. 

Apply for Unemployment Benefits Right Away!

If the COVID-19 pandemic has caused you undue financial hardship, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Check your eligibility and file a claim right away. In the meantime, consider a loan from MoneyLion until your benefits arrive to weather the storm. 

You can get an interest-free cash float of up to $250 with Instacash. There are no credit checks or hidden fees, so you may qualify with less than perfect credit. Or consider the credit builder loan from MoneyLion if you need a little more to hold you over. Access a loan up to $1,000, other premium financial tools, and boost your credit rating for a small monthly fee.