Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
The federal government, through this recent extension of the CARES Act, is supplementing state unemployment insurance benefits by providing up to 11 weeks of financial assistance, on top of state benefits, through March 14, 2021. This is an 11-week extension, so for example, if your state provides up to 26 weeks of unemployment insurance then you may receive up to 37 weeks of total unemployment insurance from this program, through March 14, 2021. These Enhancements of Employment Benefits apply to independent contractors, those who are self-employed (aka most photographers!), and gig economy workers, of whom were not covered for unemployment in the first passed bill.
Through the CARES Act, the federal government is subsidizing unemployment insurance benefits but it is up to the individual states to administer the program. In order to file for unemployment benefits, individuals must seek assistance through their state. Since the passage of the CARES Act, it has been up to the states to modify their existing unemployment benefit infrastructure. It is expected that the states will start issuing unemployment benefits soon. To find information about how to file for unemployment benefits please visit Career OneStop Service Locator and use the provided “Unemployment Benefits Finder” to filter by state. The “finder” provides you with general information about the unemployment insurance program, how to file a claim online, how to file a claim by telephone, and a coronavirus update for your state.