A- A+

Unemployment Benefits Expanded During COVID-19

Unemployment Benefits Expanded

April 1, 2020

Ryan West, the deputy director of Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), led a virtual event with the Greater Des Moines Partnership today via Zoom to answer questions and outline the CARES Act passed last week.


Once the CARES Act (H.R. 748) passed on Friday, March 27, 2020, Ryan explains that it then must go to the Department of Labor where the unemployment insurance points will be hammered out. Until then, details are still being considered. Ryan says the purpose of the bill is to help people out who don’t normally qualify for unemployment insurance. For individuals who are 1099 or self-employed, there is relief for those individuals to get paid. He also highlights the fact that a claim is unique unto itself, just as each situation is unique, which means that there is no guarantee of qualifying for unemployment insurance.

Updates on the CARES Act

Ryan says there are two things to do to continue to be updated on when benefits become available and other details regarding the CARES Act:

Unemployment Insurance Details

If you haven’t filed a claim, Ryan says it is imperative that you go ahead and go to iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov to fill one out so that you’re already one step ahead. He explains this is more helpful in moving things forward than calling the IWF offices since there are so many calls coming in right now. However, do call in if you need assistance with language translation.

Usually, qualifying for unemployment insurance is based on the wages your employer reports on you. You don’t pay it out of your check. Ryan says the reality is that it is based on the employer, or tax report. To be eligible, claimants must meet each of the following criteria for unemployment benefits (UI):

  • Be totally or partially unemployed.
  • Have worked and earned a minimum amount of wages in work covered by UI in the last 15 to 18 months.
  • Have lost his or her job through no fault of their own.
  • Be able and available for work.
  • Verify your identity through online verification or provide required documents.
  • Be actively seeking work (work search may be waived if certain criteria are met).
  • Be registered for work (unless the work search requirement is waived).

Frequently Asked Questions

Ryan goes on to answer questions regarding unemployment insurance in the education sector, as well as changes to PTO/sick time rules, forms for employers, furlough restrictions and more. You can read more frequently asked questions regarding the CARES Act on the IWD website or listen to the entire virtual event here.

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates as well. See more on COVID-19 here.

Find these tips useful? Find more business tools and information by visiting the Business Resources page.

Mary Bontrager

Mary Bontrager serves as executive vice president of talent development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, where she leads efforts to recruit and retain talent to the Greater Des Moines (DSM) region. Bontrager currently serves on Grand View University Board of Trustees, Girl Scouts of Iowa Board, South Central Iowa STEM Advisory Council and several advisory committees for Future Ready Iowa.