Have you lost income as a result of the pandemic due to job loss, illness, quarantine or caring for others? You may qualify for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Here’s CERB explained.

CERB (The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) is a government subsidy that provides emergency income support for up to 16 weeks for Canadian workers who are out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. This benefit provides $500 per week for affected workers if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Here’s what CERB entails, who is eligible and how to apply.

What is CERB and What Benefits Are Offered?

CERB, or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, is a $500 per week benefit paid to workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit can also be paid to workers who use up their entire sickness benefits, Employment Insurance, or Employment Insurance fishing benefits, so long as this occurs between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

These workers can receive CERB income support for up to 16 weeks, receiving a total of $2,000 every benefit period, or every four weeks. However, CERB is considered taxable income and must be reported as such on a tax return.

This benefit is available to workers starting on March 15, 2020 and will end on October 3, 2020. Payments can be made retroactively and the application process is open until December 2, 2020.

Who Is Eligible For CERB?

To be eligible for CERB benefits, a worker must:

  • live in Canada
  • be at least 15 years old.
  • made at least $5,000 during the 2019 calendar year or during the one-year period prior to applying for benefits.
  • Both employment and self-employment income is eligible, as well as income from outside of Canada. Non-eligible dividends also count towards this income.

Money received through disability benefits, pensions, student loans, and scholarships does not count as eligible 2019 income.

Eligible workers must have stopped working due to COVID-19 and due to involuntary reasons such as being laid off or furloughed. Workers in quarantine or who are sick with COVID-19 also qualify. Those taking care of dependants due to care facilities closing are also eligible for CERB.

Workers who have left their jobs voluntarily are not eligible for CERB. Those receiving parental benefits cannot receive CERB at the same time.

Other eligible workers include those who are currently eligible for Employment Insurance and sickness benefits. Workers who have exhausted these benefits, including Employment Insurance fishing benefits, are also eligible for CERB. However, workers currently getting EI benefits cannot receive CERB at the same time.

A worker will not be eligible for CERB if they have made at least $1,000 in employment or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days, and that period is within the 4-week benefit period of that first claim. A worker also cannot make more than $1,000 during the entire 4-week period used for subsequent claims.

How Does One Apply For CERB?

Before applying, a worker will need their personal contact information, Social Insurance Number, and be able to confirm that they are eligible.

The application process for CERB can be started online here.  Workers can apply through Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency and will be asked questions about their employment and income, and then directed to the most appropriate agency. Workers must only apply through one agency and not both. Applying by phone is also an available option.

Each benefit period is 4 weeks, and workers must reapply as needed every 4 weeks. While benefit periods do not need to be consecutive, they must be claimed within 16 weeks from a worker’s first claim.

Workers will receive their first $500 payments within 10 business days of applying, though those opting for cheque payments may wait longer than those opting for direct deposit.

This article is provided by E&E Ltd. We are professional accountants who are here to assist small businesses with accurate information during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. If you or your business have any questions, be sure to contact us today.

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