The CARES Act gave states the option of extending unemployment compensation to independent contractors, including sports officials, and other workers who are ordinarily ineligible for unemployment benefits. It was signed into law on March 27, 2020, but nearly 2 months later, many still haven’t received their benefits.
If you’re still waiting on benefits, you’re not alone. Not all states provided figures, but according to Bloomberg News, at least 5 million initial claims filed were yet to be paid and it’s estimated that that number is much higher. According to Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, just 60% of the 36.5 million people who have filed initial claims since March 15 have been paid the benefits they are owed.
Others have filed for benefits and been told they’re entitled to $0 in benefits. According to employment experts, “gig workers and other self-employed individuals in many states must apply for a state’s traditional unemployment insurance benefits and be denied in order to be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.” Only after that denial, will you be eligible for unemployment benefits through PUA.
Despite website glitches, long hold times, and ongoing delays, progress is being made. All states are finally accepting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. Nevada was the last state to start accepting claims with their system finally going live on Saturday. As of this week, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments are now being distributed in 37 states, according to data from the National Governors Association.
If you’ve tried applying for benefits and run into issues, it’s worth trying again. Exact benefits will vary by state, but all will include an extra $600 per week which comes out to around $10,000 if you’re eligible for the full period from late March to the end of July. If there’s a delay (which is likely) your benefits will be paid retroactively to make up for the lag time.
You can find additional information about the coronavirus stimulus and how it applies to referees and umpires here.