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Part-Time Workers Can Get $600 CARES Payout, DOL Says

By Emily Brill · May 11, 2020, 12:34 PM EDT

Part-time workers may be eligible for the extra $600 in weekly unemployment payments provided by coronavirus relief legislation that became law at the end of March, the U.S. Department of Labor said in new guidance aimed at clearing up questions about CARES Act benefits.

The guidance, issued Saturday, answers 18 questions about who qualifies for the enhanced Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act unemployment benefits, how frequently payments must be made, and whether the benefits are subject to federal income tax withholding, among other topics.

The four-page document breaks down inquiries into three categories: issuing payments, overpayments and recovery, and financial information and reporting.

The CARES Act, signed into law March 27, allows states to tack $600 per week onto regular unemployment benefits and dispense benefits to people who don't usually qualify, such as independent contractors, the self-employed and those who work as part of the so-called gig economy, the DOL said. "All 50 states and two territories" have made the enhanced weekly benefit available, the department said Saturday.

The guidance clarifies that people collecting partial unemployment benefits due to a return to part-time work can still receive the additional $600 per week, unless they're making more money at the part-time job than they receive in unemployment benefits.

The guidance directs states to note which unemployment program people collect the enhanced benefits through, as the federal government is recording the total amount of enhanced benefits each program disburses, the DOL said.

According to the guidance, the additional $600 benefit is subject to federal income tax withholding, like regular unemployment benefits.

Saturday's guidance is the latest in a series of DOL documents addressing how to administer the CARES Act's changes to unemployment benefits. The agency's previous pieces of guidance include documents issued April 4, April 5 and April 27.

The April 27 guidance answered 57 questions DOL officials had fielded in an April 8 webinar with state unemployment administrators. A little over a third of the questions concerned eligibility for the enhanced benefit.

The guidance issued the weekend of April 4-5 identified key dates for unemployment administrators to keep in mind and provided more information about eligibility.

--Additional reporting by Braden Campbell and Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Marygrace Murphy.

Update: This story has been updated with additional information about the new guidance.

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