How to File for Unemployment If You Have Been Laid Off During the Coronavirus Pandemic

by Sharon Elber

Filing for Unemployment

If you have missed work due to layoffs, temporary closings, or illness during the coronavirus outbreak, then please waste no time to look into filing for unemployment and/or temporary disability benefits.

This article will give you the information on the government’s rapidly evolving response, offer tips on whether or not you qualify for benefits, and show you where to go to learn more about how to apply in your state.

Changes to Unemployment Insurance from COVID 19

It is important to understand that the government response to the dramatic shifts in the workforce are evolving rapidly. Some changes we are seeing both at the state and federal level include:

Changes in Who Is Eligible for UI

In order to streamline their response to people in need of funds, many states are simplifying eligibility requirements with fast tracked applications for workers affected by COVID 19 lay offs and illness. See our state by state guide below to learn more about your state’s response.

Waiving the Waiting Period

Many states are waiving or shortening the waiting period for UI eligibility. If you have been laid off or are unable to work because of illness, the best advice is to apply immediately.

Waiving Job Application Requirements

Under normal circumstances most states require UI recipients to demonstrate proof of an ongoing job search while they are receiving unemployment benefits. Due to the unprecedented business closings as people shelter in place, this requirement is in the process of being waived in most states. Check the unemployment rules in your state to find out the latest changes in your area.

Length of Benefit Period

In cooperation with ongoing and evolving federal responses to the COVID 19 crisis, the typical 6 month limit on unemployment benefits is likely to be extended.

Unemployment Office Closures

In order to protect against the spread of Coronavirus, many government offices, including unemployment offices, are now closed or pending temporary closure. You may find that your local office is closed. Don’t panic. Most states have phone and online portals to help you file your claim from home. See our state by state unemployment guide below.

How Do You Know If You Qualify for Unemployment During COVID 19?

Although federal policy and budget helps to guide unemployment policy, UI is technically administered at the state level. Please refer to the state in which you live to learn more about eligibility, using our reference table provided below.

However, here are some general tips for determining if you should file for Unemployment Benefits:

Are You Still Receiving Pay from Your Employer?

Talk to your employer before you file an unemployment claim. In some cases, employers are applying for loans and other programs in order to continue to pay employees even if they are temporarily not able to work due to illness or a temporary shutdown of regular business operations. In such cases, if you are still receiving a regular paycheck, you may not qualify for unemployment insurance.

Have Your Hours Been Cut at Work Due to the Coronavirus Response?

Depending on the state in which you live, partial unemployment compensation may apply to your situation allowing you to make up the loss in earning due to schedule cuts at your place of employment. Check with the state by state guide below to learn more about the partial unemployment rules in your state.

Have You Missed Work Due to Illness During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

If you have stayed home from work based on employer orders because you either contracted COVID 19, or had flu-like symptoms, you may qualify for temporary disability depending on your state.

Are You Unsure About Your Health Coverage While Unemployed Due to COVID 19?

If you previously had healthcare coverage through your employer and are now laid off, contact your HR department to learn how long your coverage will last and if your employer will be extending coverage for employees affected by the coronavirus and/or employment changes in response to the outbreak.

In addition, states are responding to the crisis by reopening healthcare enrollment to ease the transition for displaced workers through the ACA. Check with your state’s health insurance exchange portal to learn more.

State by State COVID-19 Unemployment Procedures

Unemployment Insurance is administered by each state. In order to get the most up to date information about how to file unemployment if you have been laid off due to COVID 19, see the latest procedures for filing in your state:




South Carolina




South Dakota



New Hampshire




New Jersey




New Mexico




New York




North Carolina




North Dakota





Washington DC




West Virginia











Rhode Island


Ongoing Support for Workers Laid Off During the Coronavirus Pandemic

We are committed to helping workers navigate the shifts in the workforce due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Be sure to check our COVID 19 Resource Page for ongoing updates and resources regarding how to navigate through this difficult time.

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