COVID-19: Unemployment & Benefits Update

COVID-19: Unemployment & Benefits Update

While the SBA loan programs are no longer accepting applicants due to lack of funding (though more money may soon be available if additional funding is signed into law), individuals and businesses still have access to certain resources in order to make ends meet.

Paycheck and Disaster Loans – Done for Now

As of Thursday, April 16, 2020, the two federal emergency aid programs, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL), have run out of money. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has now stopped accepting applications for both programs.

NAR is working with Congress to increase funding for these programs. See NAR’s letter to government leaders here. The Trump administration and Congress hope to reach an agreement early this week on a package of up to $450 billion that includes an increase in funding for both programs. For more information on NAR’s advocacy efforts and the actions by Congress, go to NAR’s website here.

Unemployment Still Available

As reported last week, REALTORS®, even those who work as independent contractors, may qualify for unemployment now, depending on income. This program is still funded. In fact, the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) reported on April 20 that over $164 million in unemployment benefits had been disbursed.

For more information on unemployment benefits, check out our FAQs on the CARES Act here. NAR has some great resources here. To go directly to ADOL’s unemployment benefits page, click here. An illustrative grid of eligibility prepared by ADOL may be found here.

Here are a few things to keep in mind and FAQs:

  • Weekly Claims: Unemployment benefits must be claimed weekly, which can be done online at ADOL’s website.
  • Independent Contractor - Is my broker my employer?
    • If you are an independent contractor, you are your employer. Your broker is not your employer for  purposes of filing an unemployment claim.
  • Problem Reported - REALTORS®, as independent contractors, have reported receiving inaccurate, $0 “monetary determinations” after filing. But this letter is automatic under the old system where independent contractors were not eligible for unemployment. ADOL has stated that those eligible will receive their benefits once the system update is complete. If this or other issues occur, please call the number provided by ADOL and continue filing weekly claims.
  • Revised Application – With the new updates coming online, REALTORS® who have already applied for unemployment should receive a new application that is geared toward independent contractors and sole proprietors. Even if you have not received any benefits or received a $0 “monetary determination,” complete the new application to determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment.
  • Partial Unemployment Are you eligible for unemployment if you are partially unemployed or had multiple jobs and lost one?
    • The answer is maybe, depending on how much you are now making. If you make more than $275 a week total, then you do not currently qualify for unemployment benefits in Alabama. If you make less than $275 a week, then you qualify for benefits under the CARES Act.
  • Double dipping: Unemployment and Loans – I received money under one of the loan programs (PPP or EIDL program). Can I receive unemployment benefits?
    • Yes, but the money cannot go to pay the same thing. Since unemployment benefits replace lost income, the loan could not go toward income/paychecks but toward utilities or other expenses. However, if you obtained a loan from the PPP and receive unemployment, the loan may no longer be forgivable, since you cannot use the PPP money to pay your salary. Discuss this with your accountant to fully understand the impact.
  • File Unemployment Application Again Online: If you emailed or mailed your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application and have not heard from ADOL, consider filing an application again online. Due to the large number of email/paper applications, the system is backlogged. While ADOL is working diligently to process the paper/email applications, it could take weeks to work through such a large number. Filing online will speed up the process considerably. Don’t worry, you will have to provide your claim number from the original application so this will not be considered a second claim. Go here to file online. This counts for first time filers too.



Infographic from the National Association of REALTORS®