Unemployment Insurance Relief in Connecticut During the COVID-19 Outbreak

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) to provide economic relief in response to the coronavirus pandemic. CARES Act included funding for a Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“FPUC”).

Under FPUC, states, including Connecticut, will administer a $600 weekly payment to individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation from the Connecticut Department of Labor (“CT DOL”). The CT DOL will determine the initial eligibility criteria for unemployment, including partial state unemployment benefits. An individual is eligible for the full $600 weekly payment so long as they receive $1 or more of regular unemployment compensation for the week from their home state.

In Connecticut, individuals are able to receive unemployment benefits for twenty-six weeks. However, FPUC provides for thirteen additional weeks of unemployment benefits at $600 a week. This means that if you already exhausted the twenty-six weeks of benefits available from the CT DOL you can now re-apply for unemployment benefits with the CT DOL under FPUC for thirteen weeks of unemployment benefits of $600 a week. If you are just now applying for unemployment you will have thirty-nine weeks of benefits.

The $600 weekly payments under FPUC only continue until July 31, 2020 and payments begin the date that you file for unemployment. Due to the corona virus pandemic the Department of Labor has a backlog of unemployment applications but the $600 payment will be paid retroactively starting from the date of your application for unemployment.

Some additional notes:

      • Independent contractors and gig economy workers, such as Lyft or Uber drivers, are able to access CARES Act unemployment benefits of $600 a week so long as they are unemployed, partially employed or unable to work because of the coronavirus pandemic.
      • The $600 payment for FPUC is considered taxable income. If an individual decides to have taxes withheld then the state must withhold taxes from their weekly benefit amount.
      • if you have received a seven day notice from your employer that your time worked will be reduced as part of a shared work program, you still qualify for the $600 benefit under FPUC. Under this you will receive your unemployment benefit amount and the additional $600.

Connecticut Department of Labor is responsible for administering CARES Act benefits and as of the date of this article(4/23/20) they are not sure when payments will begin.