Answering Frequent Questions About Unemployment Benefits

May 26, 2020, 6:45 a.m. ·

(Credit: Nebraska Department of Labor)

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The NET News team is working to answer your questions during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have asked us about the complicated process of filing for unemployment benefits.

See questions we've already answered at

Karen in Omaha is one of dozens to ask us why the check hasn’t arrived despite being approved more than a month ago.

Commissioner of Labor John Albin says their goal is to pay out claims within 28 days – and they met that goal for about 85% of claims since mid-March.

"If you’re hitting 85% of 121,000, that still means that there’s 15-16,000 out there that didn’t get paid within that time span," Albin said Thursday. He adds that they’re catching up on the backlog.

Robin wants to know when the state will process the 13-week extension of unemployment benefits funded by the federal CARES Act.

This is a benefit for Nebraskans who have already maxed out the state unemployment benefits of 26 weeks.

Albin says they got the software set up last week, so processing just started — but payments will likely be slow because banks were closed on Memorial Day.

Sheila in Omaha is a self-employed Licensed Massage Therapist returning to work. But most of her clients are staying home – so she wants to know if she can keep receiving unemployment benefits?

Albin says the short answer is yes:

"As long as the earnings that you have do not exceed your weekly benefit amount, you will be eligible for at least a partial PUA benefit."

PUA is "Pandemic Unemployment Assistance," which is what allows self-employed workers to get benefits they don’t normally qualify for.

Plus, Albin says, if you get even $1 dollar of PUA, you’re also eligible for the entire $600 federal payment on top of that.