Close to 20 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits as layoffs from the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdown continue to mount, even as many businesses have reopened.
How much money individuals can receive varies drastically by state, but the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March increased jobless aid by $600 per week through the end of July (although the sweetened benefits will likely expire a week earlier for most Americans).
At the end of 2019, the average weekly unemployment check was $378.
Benefits are typically paid for up to 26 weeks.
Here are the five states with the highest weekly maximum, before the extra $600 per week went into effect, according to state departments of labor.
New Jersey: $713
Generally, Americans who are self-employed, unable to work or do not have a recent earnings history are ineligible to receive the benefits. The program also tends to exclude people who were fired or quit their jobs without good cause.
However, the CARES Act expands eligibility to include self-employed people, those seeking part-time employment and independent contractors. Americans who are diagnosed with COVID-19, or who are unable to go to work because of quarantine, would also be eligible.
To apply for benefits, contact your state’s unemployment office. You can typically file your claim online, via phone or in person, although because of the outbreak, most offices were shut down.