As part of a previous federal coronavirus relief package, workers collecting unemployment insurance temporarily received an extra $600 per week in supplemental benefits. Though Democrats pushed to extend it, they could not get Republicans to agree, and the extra benefits expired July 31.
As a workaround, President Donald Trump authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to set aside up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund for lost wage payments. Under this Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program, FEMA will provide participating states with grants to help cover expanded unemployment benefits of $300 per week, plus 5% of the total grant amount to cover administrative costs.
States also may choose to contribute an additional $100 per week, bringing the total extra benefit amount to $400 per week. However, few states are expected to do so because of the cost.
It was originally expected that these unemployment benefits would last about five weeks. However, states approved for funding are now only guaranteed three weeks, retroactive to Aug. 1. If there are still funds available after that period, allocation of the money will be determined on a week-by-week basis until the money is gone.
Who Qualifies For The Extra $300 Unemployment Assistance?
The good news is that FEMA funds are available to those who traditionally wouldn’t qualify for unemployment insurance through the Department of Labor, such as self-employed and gig workers.
The catch? The money is only available to claimants currently receiving at least $100 a week in state benefits. That means thousands of unemployed workers in approved states could be left out, such as those who worked part time and receive partial benefits. Some states are working on solutions to ensure that everyone collecting unemployment benefits qualifies for the FEMA funds.
When Will The $300 Unemployment Payments Kick In?
In order to receive the additional $300 per week in FEMA assistance, states have to apply for it. Many states have applied already, and several have been approved. Keith Turi, FEMA assistant administrator for recovery, told reporters this week he believes “a majority” of states eventually will apply for the additional aid. However, there are quite a few states that have yet to apply, and a couple have declined the assistance.
“I think the reason that states are reluctant to get engaged is because of the technology involved,” said Jane Oates, a former U.S. Department of Labor official who now serves as president of the advocacy group WorkingNation. “Many of the states are using antiquated technology that doesn’t have interoperability. … it’s very difficult for them to add it to the unemployment checks of out-of-work workers.”
Getting that money into unemployed workers’ pockets depends on when the state applied, when it gets approved for funding and how quickly it can update computer systems to handle the payments. Arizona, for example, has already paid out benefits to qualifying residents. Other states may need six weeks or longer to get up and running.
Which States Will Offer The Extra $300 Unemployment Payments?
States are continually applying for payment assistance. Below is a look at the current status for each state.
Alabama: The state announced this week that it will submit an application for additional funding. Once approved, no additional application will be necessary for claimants; those who are eligible will be notified by email. The state will not contribute the extra $100 per week.
Alaska: Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office said last week that he approved a plan to increase state unemployment benefits. It’s uncertain when eligible unemployed workers can expect to receive the money. The state will not contribute the extra $100 per week.
Arizona: This was the first state to be approved for additional unemployment assistance, and eligible unemployed workers began receiving their extra $300 per week in benefits on Monday. The state opted not to contribute an additional $100 per week due to budget concerns.
Arkansas: The state is still considering whether it will participate in the program and plans to make a decision by Friday.
California: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 22. It won’t contribute the extra $100 per week due to the cost. It’s uncertain when benefits will be paid, but it may take up to 20 weeks to disperse payments because of issues with the state’s computer system.
Colorado: The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced on Aug. 19 that it had been approved for three weeks of funding, covering July 26 through Aug. 15, though it’s still uncertain when those benefits will be dispersed and whether they’ll be extended. Right now, it’s estimated that eligible claimants will see their money mid-September to late-September. The state is still considering whether it will contribute the extra $100 per week.
Connecticut: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
Delaware: It’s unclear whether Delaware will participate. However, last week, Gov. John Carney said that the state doesn’t have the money to supplement the additional $100 per week in benefits and is already borrowing money from the federal government to pay its current obligations.
District of Columbia: The District of Columbia has not announced whether it will participate.
Florida: The state has not yet applied for the program. The office of Gov. Ron DeSantis said it is still reviewing guidance from the Department of Labor and FEMA.
Georgia: As of last week, the state is still working to determine whether it is financially feasible to participate.
Hawaii: As of last week, Gov. David Ige said his office was seeking more details about what would be required to participate before making a decision.
Idaho: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 19. According to the office of Gov. Brad Little, he sought five weeks of assistance, after which point the situation will be reevaluated. The state will not contribute an additional $100 per week.
Illinois: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb announced this week that the state applied for additional funding. Once approved, it’s expected to take two weeks to three weeks for payments to start going out, according to one state official. The state will not contribute the extra $100 per week.
Iowa: The state’s application for assistance was approved on Aug. 14. It has not announced when qualifying residents can expect to receive their money. The state will not contribute the extra $100 per week in extended benefits.
Kansas: Gov. Laura Kelly is still considering a number of factors before deciding whether to participate.
Kentucky: The state’s application for assistance was approved on Aug. 21. It also plans to pay out the full $400 per week. The state will need about two weeks to update its computer system in order to pay out benefits. Recipients can expect their money in early September.
Louisiana: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 14. Gov. John Bel Edwards stated he estimates eligible claimants (about 400,000 people) could begin receiving the extra $300 per week as soon as next week. He also stated that the expanded benefits should last about six weeks. The state will not chip in the additional $100 per week.
Maine: The Maine Department of Labor is working with the Maine Emergency Management Agency to determine whether it’s feasible to participate.
Maryland: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 19. Benefits will be paid in late September, according to state officials. The state will not chip in the extra $100 per week.
Massachusetts: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 21. There is no word on whether the state will pitch in the extra $100 per week or when qualified residents can expect to receive their money.
Michigan: The state was approved for a FEMA lost wages grant on Aug. 18. Claimants don’t have to take any additional action and payments will be distributed automatically, though Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not indicate when payments would begin going out. The state does not plan to contribute the additional $100 per week.
Minnesota: A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stated that the state does plan to apply for extended benefits, but first needs clarification about how to deliver the checks.
Mississippi: Gov. Tate Reeves stated this week that eligible unemployed workers will likely receive an additional $300 a week in federal aid. However the state can’t afford the extra $100 per week. Reeves did not indicate when benefits would be paid out.
Missouri: The state was approved for federal assistance on Aug. 15. Gov. Mike Parson said he supports chipping in to provide the additional $100 per week, but is still working out the details. The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations website states that it’s working with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to distribute funds as quickly as possible and will update the site when new information is available.
Montana: The state was approved for a FEMA lost wages grant on Aug. 18. In addition to the $300 in weekly payments using federal funds, the state will contribute an additional $100 through its own coronavirus relief funding. It hasn’t announced when eligible residents will receive the money.
Nebraska: The state is still determining whether it will participate. The Nebraska Department of Labor website states it “will make an announcement and inform claimants once more information becomes available.”
Nevada: The state is still determining whether it will participate; Nevada’s unemployment office stated it’s analyzing the potential costs of implementation.
New Hampshire: According to the New Hampshire Employment Security website, benefits are expected to be paid in the beginning of September, pending approval of the state’s application. New Hampshire is also working to make changes so that unemployed workers who currently receive less than $100 in unemployment will receive the expanded benefits. However, the state will not contribute the additional $100 per week.
New Jersey: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
New Mexico: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 15. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions website said it is working to prepare the state system to start issuing payments in the next few weeks, and no additional action is required by claimants for now.
New York: The state previously declined to participate; Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters during an Aug. 19 conference call, “You can’t get water out of a stone” and that the state could not afford to join the program. The governor added that he’d “rather do business with the old-time ‘bookie’ on the street corner than do business with FEMA.” However, on Aug. 21, Cuomo reversed his decision and indicated that he planned to apply soon. However, the state will not contribute the extra $100 per week in extended benefits. There is no timeline yet for when New Yorkers can expect to receive their money.
North Carolina: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 21. Gov. Roy Cooper previously stated that he supports the $100 state contribution, which should be paid using the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. However, he has not confirmed whether the state will provide the match, nor said when unemployed workers can expect to receive their money.
North Dakota: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
Ohio: The state is still working out how it will administer the extra funds, and does not have a set date for when the money will be distributed. Ohio will not contribute the extra $100 per week, saying it would cause additional delays in paying out funds.
Oklahoma: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 18. It will begin the process of dispersing funds immediately, according to the governor’s office. However, it will not contribute the additional $100 per week.
Oregon: The state has not announced whether it will participate. David Gerstenfeld, interim head of the Oregon Employment Department, stated that officials are still evaluating whether participating makes financial sense.
Pennsylvania: The state’s Department of Labor and Industry is waiting for federal guidance on the application. If approved, the payments may only last five weeks or less, and it could take a month for qualified claimants to begin receiving their money. There is no indication that the state plans to contribute the additional $100 per week.
Rhode Island: The state Department of Labor and Training announced on Aug. 20 that it would submit an application. Its website states that the department is waiting on further federal guidance.
South Carolina: The state has not announced whether it will participate. The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce website states that it is aware of the memorandum, and “initial guidance has been received, but additional clarifications have been requested regarding implementation.”
South Dakota: The state has declined to participate.
Tennessee: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 22. It will not contribute the extra $100 per week in benefits.
Texas: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 21. Eligible claimants can expect to receive their money on or after Aug. 23. However, the state will not pitch in the extra $100 per week.
Utah: The state was approved for funding on Aug. 16 for a period of three weeks. Benefits will be automatically calculated and distributed, and no action is required by claimants. However, there is no word on when benefits will be paid out, and the state will not contribute the additional $100 per week.
Vermont: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
Virginia: The administration of Gov. Ralph Northam stated this week that the state is in the process of applying for funds. Once approved, it’s estimated that it will take at least three weeks for the money to begin being distributed. The state is still deciding whether it will chip in the extra $100 per week.
Washington: State officials announced this week that Washington will apply for assistance no later than Aug. 21. Once approved, the state will implement the program as quickly as possible, with payments lasting three weeks. It will not, however, pay for the extra $100 per week in extended benefits.
West Virginia: WorkForce West Virginia applied for funding and plans to distribute the full $400 per week benefit amount if approved. In addition to the $300 in federal funds, the extra $100 will come from West Virginia’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Wisconsin: The state has not announced whether it will participate. Last week, Gov. Tony Evers stated his administration is still reviewing the details of the program and how it will be implemented.
Wyoming: The state has not announced whether it will participate.
Information was accurate as of the time of publication and may be updated as new details become available.
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