How the CARES Act Expands Unemployment

Authored By: Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc. LSC Funded



The new CARES Act passed by the federal government expands Unemployment Insurance in three ways:

  • First, if you get unemployment, from now until July 31, you will get an extra $600 each week on top of your usual benefit amount. You do not have to do anything to get this extra money and it does NOT count as income for Medicaid or peachcare.
  • Second, you can now get unemployment for up to 39 weeks.
  • Third, workers who cannot usually get unemployment are now eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This includes people who:
    • are self-employed,
    • are independent contractors,
    • are looking for part-time work,
    • haven’t worked somewhere long enough to qualify for Unemployment Benefits, or
    • cannot work for reasons related to covid-19.


Anyone whose work has been affected by COVID-19, whether it is temporary or permanent, should apply for unemployment. Apply online at or by calling your local career center.


Learn more at

Last Review and Update: Jun 23, 2020