Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Federal lawmakers have passed the CARES Act, a COVID-19 stimulus bill that will expand Unemployment Insurance Benefits to those not traditionally covered, including the self-employed, independent contractors, and others. The Montana Department of Labor & Industry has received some guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on the administration of this new program, and we are awaiting complete details. Based on the information released from the federal government, we are diligently implementing significant IT system changes to start processing claims under the expanded program. We are prepared to backdate unemployment assistance claims authorized under the CARES Act, to the week of March 15th, consistent with the onset of local and state social distancing directives and Governor Bullock’s “Stay at Home” directive.

We encourage anyone who has experienced job loss due to COVID-19 to file a claim for unemployment. Your claim request will then be in our system in a pending status. As we implement IT programming changes, we will move your claim through the UI process. We appreciate your patience and will continue to broadly share announcements as information becomes available. This information is intended as general information only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.

Summary of CARES Act


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes, you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits under new federal law, the CARES Act. You can now complete a regular unemployment claim online at If you are new to this website, you will have to first create an account to file a new Unemployment Claim. If you have filed for unemployment in the past, you may be asked for a Security Word. Please be aware that Security Word used to be Mother’s Maiden Name on the previous website.

    All states, including Montana, will have to make significant IT programming changes before the new federal payments will be available to self-employed individuals. The federal government recently issued guidance so states could start changing our IT systems. DLI is working diligently to make necessary changes to MontanaWorks.. Any benefit payments will be retroactive for eligible claimants as authorized by law. We appreciate your patience and will broadly share announcements as information becomes available.

    Last Updated 4/13/20
  • I was receiving unemployment through last week, and my benefits have exhausted. I am still within my benefit year and was told I couldn’t file again until my claim expires. Do I need to refile a new claim to receive the additional money that was passed in legislation for the CARES Act?

    Please know if you are eligible for back weeks of unemployment benefits on one of these federal programs, we will work with you to make those changes as allowed by state and federal law.

    Last Updated 4/13/20
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