Unemployment Benefits Extensions in the Proposed HEROES Act

The prospect of getting more cash if you’re unemployed can only be a good thing. The devastating impact of coronavirus means millions are now receiving unemployment benefits — many for the first time. Currently, everyone receiving jobless benefits gets an extra $600. But with the July deadline looming — the date when the additional $600 ends — you may be worried about what’s going to happen. After all, scraping by on benefits is already pretty difficult. 

If you’re out of work, extensions proposed to unemployment benefits in the HEROES Act could throw you a lifeline. The bill aims to continue paying the extra $600 to jobless folks until January 2021. But — and it’s a big but — only if the Senate approves the Act. 

This article answers your questions on what the HEROES Act means for you if you’re getting welfare. You’ll also learn what other benefits could be coming your way in the new bill. 

Life and Work Under the Covid-19 Lockdowns

Since March 2020, all of us are adapting to a “new norm.” Staying at home, hand sanitizing, homeschooling the kids, wearing face masks, and clearing the room anytime we sneeze are now a part of life. No one knows when the Covid-19 nightmare will be over and what life will be like when it does. 

Unfortunately, a “new norm” millions are now getting used to is not having a job — either being furloughed or laid off. According to official figures, the unemployment rate in April 2020 was 14.7%. However, some sources estimate the real number is closer to 20%. 

With states gradually reopening for business throughout the country, there’s a faint light at the end of the tunnel that you’ll get back to work. But there’s also the chance that you’ll still be jobless and claiming benefits for many months. You could also be in another tricky situation — you’ve got a job to go back to, but it’s a high-risk job, and you don’t want to risk catching Covid-19. 

Current Unemployment Benefits Extension

The CARES coronavirus stimulus package extended unemployment benefits to include more people and offer a higher level of benefits. What does the Covid-19 relief act include? Here are some of its benefits if you’re unemployed:

  • An additional $600 on top of regular unemployment compensation 
  • You can claim welfare up to 39 weeks, rather than the 26-week limit before coronavirus.
  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) allows gig workers and the self-employed to receive benefits if they’re out of work due to Covid-19.

However, there are limits to the benefits the CARES Act provides. For example, the $600 welfare boost ends July 21, 2020. Also, the government says the 39-week extension runs out on December 31, 2020. 

The CARES Act also included the following financial aid:

  • A $1,200 stimulus check to most taxpayers in the US
  • Limited forbearance and forgiveness for borrowers who can’t pay student loans
  • Eviction protection if you can’t afford rent because of Covid-19

The HEROES Act Unemployment Benefits Extension

Proposals in the HEROES Act provides extended benefits if you’re still out of work in 2021. The bill gives jobless individuals a financial boost until the end of January 2021. Also, the self-employed can receive benefits through March 2021. So, it’s welcome news if you’ve been laid off and are anxious about making ends meet. 

Let’s look in more detail at what the HEROES Act means for you if you don’t have a job and are claiming benefits. 

Extended unemployment benefits

The proposed $3 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package would continue paying the extra $600 to welfare claimants beyond July 31. Anyone unemployed will get the additional cash through January 2021. The bill also puts forward motions to ease the end of the extra payments. Until the end of March 2021, some jobless persons could continue to receive additional benefits. 

The HEROES ACT is also a boost if you’re self-employed or in the gig economy and lost work due to the coronavirus. Your benefits, along with the extra $600, will continue through March 2021. 

Other Benefits Proposed in the HEROES Act

Apart from the HEROES Act extending unemployment benefits, other benefits in the bill could help boost your finances. Here are a few of the proposals:

  • Stimulus check — Each adult would receive a second $1,200 Covid-19 rebate. And this time, more people would qualify for the cash payout. For example, up to three dependents in one household would receive money.
  • Rent and mortgage assistance — If you’re struggling to pay rent because you’re out of work, you could get vouchers to assist you. Also, landlords couldn’t evict you during the coronavirus pandemic for rent arrears.
  • Student loan forgiveness People who are financially crippled due to student loan debt would get relief. You wouldn’t have to make any loan repayments until after September 2021. And some of the hardest-hit borrowers would get $10,000 wiped off their debt.
  • Hazard pay — If you’re a frontline worker, an extra $13 per hour could top up your paycheck. This wage boost would continue for 60 days after the pandemic is officially over. 
  • Increase in SNAP funding — More households would qualify for SNAP (food stamps) assistance. Also, more cash would be made available to make sure families can buy enough nutritious food.
  • Paid leave — Provisions to get coronavirus-related paid sick leave would be possible until the end of December 2021. This would allow anyone showing Covid-19 symptoms, or who has to care for a Covid-19 patient, up to 12 weeks of paid emergency family leave.
  • Worker training — To help get people back to work, funding would be available to provide training and to boost job placement programs.

Proposed Unemployment Benefit Extensions in the HEROES Act: In Conclusion

The House of Representatives approved the HEROES act on May 15. The proposals in the bill provide for extended benefits if you’re out of work. The additional $600 top-up could help you pay rent, provide for your family, and get through the coronavirus pandemic.