Federal Unemployment Expires: Check Out These Alternative Resources

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Several federal unemployment insurance programs expired on Labor Day, September 4, leaving nearly 11 million unemployed workers still struggling to pay bills. White House officials haven’t announced any plans to replace these benefits so far, but there are still some federal benefits you might be eligible to receive. Here’s what you need to know: 

Which unemployment benefits have ended

  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment: This provided an extra $300 weekly amount on top of state unemployment insurance benefits
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) This program covered workers who needed additional UI coverage beyond the typical 26 weeks of unemployment assistance provided at the state level (though this varies by state)
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC)

This provided $100 a week for those who were both employed and also worked as an
independent contractor

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): This was extended to include self-employed individuals like freelancers and gig workers

What unemployment insurance is available?
At least 25 states opted out of the federal unemployment benefits as early as June. The federal government requires money that’s provided to state governments like pandemic unemployment be used for specific purposes, and much of the relief funding has been set aside for other programs. Often if states don’t use federal funds, they can be reallocated to other states.

Eligible California residents may still qualify for the Golden State Stimulus provided by the state.

State Unemployment Benefits: Each state has its own labor department that manages unemployment benefits. Even though federal unemployment assistance has ended, workers may still be eligible to file for state unemployment insurance if they haven’t exhausted those benefits already. To qualify for most state unemployment benefits, an individual must meet work search requirements and have had taxable income that paid into the unemployment insurance prior to experiencing job loss or long-term unemployment. Find your state’s unemployment office contact information here.

Are there other relief programs available?
ERAP: The government made $46 billion available to states for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). This program provides up to three months of rental assistance for individuals who qualify. Programs and qualifications vary from state to state. Find information and rental assistance programs in your state here.

United Way 211: This is a local directory of local organizations across the U.S. where individuals can find help with their bills and assistance applying for other types of federal benefits.

Benefit Finder: Answer this questionnaire to find federal government benefits (tax credits, bonuses, aid programs) that you may be eligible for but didn’t know about. Here’s more information on resources that have been made available since the COVID-19 pandemic.

SNAP / EBT: For the first time since 1975, the government has raised the benefit amount for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (sometimes called ‘food stamps’). This provides financial assistance for groceries. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply for SNAP.

WIC: This program is like SNAP, but provides additional financial assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Use this screening tool to see if you and your family qualify for WIC.

Child Tax Credit: The third round of CTC payments will be sent to families who filed and claimed the credit on last year’s tax return. Read more about how to apply for CTC here.

Pet Assistance: If you need help with vet bills or pet care costs, check out this directory of national nonprofits and state-by-state organizations that provide financial assistance and aid for animal owners.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: This federal program provides financial assistance for low-income families to help with internet and phone costs. Learn more about the program requirements here.

State Information
Teachers: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas have provided one-time bonuses to thousands of teachers.

California: The state has sent out additional stimulus payments, and California residents who received federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) may see an additional week of payment through the federal extension.

Florida: Some low-income households may qualify for medical, food and/or temporary cash assistance through the FL Department of Children and Families (individuals must have a valid Social Security Number and be below 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines)

Texas: If you haven’t already applied to the state unemployment program, do so here. Apply to the Texas Rent Relief program here, or call 833-989-7368. Find a Catholic Charities location near you.

New York: You can find step-by-step instructions on how to file for unemployment benefits through New York State here. Apply for emergency rental assistance through ERAP here and check out this directory of community organizations that provide assistance for tenants.

Kaley LaQuea is an award–winning print and digital journalist who’s been creating content since 2008. She’s passionate about economic, environmental and social justice. She has an unhealthy relationship with caffeine and two cats: Totoro and Mononoke.