If you are one of the more than 30 million Americans that is currently receiving unemployment benefits, you may have been happy to hear about President Trump’s recent executive order offering an additional $400 per week on top of state-provided benefits. However, this benefit differs significantly from the $600-per-week federal unemployment benefits that expired July 25th. Here’s what we know so far.
How does it work?
The main difference between this unemployment benefit and the previous $600-per-week additional federal benefit is the state’s involvement in the additional funding. If your state agrees to pay unemployed residents an extra $100 per week, the federal government will add an additional $300 on top of that, for a total of $400 above your regular state-provided benefits. However, states with budgetary issues may not be able to pay an additional $100 per week per unemployed individual on top of what they’re already paying in unemployment claims. In those cases, the Labor Department will count $100 of what they’re already paying towards the additional $300 federal supplement, so unemployed individuals would only receive an additional $300 per week. To date, no state has offered to fund the additional $100 per week to make it $400 for unemployed benefit claimants.
Who qualifies for it?
If you were/are eligible for state unemployment assistance, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance through the CARES Act, you are also eligible for this. However, states must be approved for funding by FEMA, who is in charge of disbursing the relief, so only claimants in approved states will receive funding. So far, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, and Utah have been approved, and South Dakota announced it will not seek funding. Washington has not yet been approved. Additionally, if you receive less than $100 per week in state unemployment benefits, you will not receive any additional funding.
When does it begin?
It will vary by state based on approval date, but most estimate that the first payments will go out in late August. Fortunately, regardless of the exact date it begins, it will be retroactive to August 1st.
How long will it last?
According to FEMA, states applying for the federal grants will receive an “initial obligation of three weeks of needed funding,” and then FEMA will make allotments to states on a week-by-week basis. These benefits will be available until one of the following items occurs:
FEMA spends $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) designated for this program
The total unobligated balance of the DRF decreases to $25 billion (e.g., because of a natural disaster)
Congress passes legislation for supplemental federal unemployment benefits after they return from recess in September
December 27th, 2020