CARES Act 2020: Unemployment Insurance and Farmers and Ranchers

CARES Act 2020: Unemployment Insurance and Farmers and Ranchers

Generally, unemployment insurance across the country is managed by state government. Each has different rules, with oversight by the US Department of Labor. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act made changes to the unemployment coverage for workers and appropriated funds for the changes. The act tasked the Labor Department with writing rules for the changes and it has issued an Unemployment Insurance Letter — UL No. 16-20 — that begins the rulemaking process. This guidance will then be used by Nebraska to implement the CARES Act. This article reviews what is known now with future rules to clarify eligibility.

Changes to Unemployment Insurance

Several changes were made to unemployment insurance, including eligibility, length of coverage and benefits. These include:

  1. An additional $600 weekly in benefits from federal appropriations until no later than July 31, 2020.
  2. Increase in the length of unemployment benefits to 39 weeks.
  3. Creation of the temporary program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which expanded eligibility. Eligible persons include self-employed, those seeking part-time employment and those with insufficient work history for benefits.

The Labor Department currently has a permanent Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program that makes unemployment payments during a disaster to self-employed persons. This includes farmers and ranchers in the definition of self-employed. The department says the new temporary pandemic assistance will be administered like the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program. So, one can expect that farmers will be eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

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