The American Rescue Plan (ARP - March 2021) waives federal income taxes on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 by middle- and lower-income taxpayers. The tax relief extends to both workers who received benefits through federal unemployment programs as well as those who received traditional benefits through their state unemployment insurance fund. Federal unemployment benefits will remain at $300/week.Enhanced Federal Unemployment Compensation Payments Extended Through September 6th
. Self-employed people and gig workers will also receive extended assistance. benefits will extend through Sept. 6. The first $10,200 in unemployment payments will be nontaxable for households with incomes under $150,000.
The new Federal U.S. COVID Relief Act allows part-time employees and self-employed persons (who may not have paid into unemployment compensation) to receive unemployment benefits, similar to the U.S. CARES Act. Gig workers like Uber drivers, freelancers, and contract workers should also be eligible for benefits, if they are unable to work because of COVID-19. "Frequently asked Questions for Workers Regarding COVID-19.
"File a claim for unemployment compensation
at the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) website
or call 1-866-832-2363, 8:15 am to 4:30 pm, Monday- Friday, and Saturday between 9:00 am-1:00 pm. You will likely receive quicker determination of benefits applying on-line, because VEC call centers are currently overwhelmed. The unemployment application website has been improved to accommodate a higher number of people filing for claims. If you can't get through, try the website at off-peak times. Here are detailed "step by step" instructions
for how to apply for unemployment compensation.
Select "Lack of Work
" as your reason for separation. Here are resources
for individuals applying for unemployment insurance benefits due to COVID-19 and FAQ
on claims related to the coronavirus.
The VEC directs, "no claim for unemployment insurance may be filed or processed until an actual lay off from employment has occurred, or until there has been an actual reduction in hours. If you will be filing because of a reduction in hours, you will not receive benefits unless your gross earnings are less than your weekly unemployment benefit amount."U.S. Congress passed the COVID Relief legislation granting half the enhanced unemployment benefit that expired December 26th.
The law will add $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits from the federal government on top of whatever base amount a worker receives from the state. Document your attempts to file your claim
. Note date and time you called, how long you waited, the name of any person you spoke with. Online, take screenshots of the website. This evidence might eventually help you collect benefits dating back to when you first attempted to file for them. If your claim is denied, you can appeal. Contact legal aid
advocates who can help you through the process at low or no cost. Call your local elected official or local media to let them know how the process isn't working.