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A look at who is and isn’t eligible for the $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits

Published Sep 16th, 2020 4:32PM EDT
Unemployment Benefits 300
Image: Viesturs/Adobe
  • A $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits was recently approved by FEMA. To date, 47 states have been approved to dole out the increase in funds.
  • One group not eligible for the increase are individuals who already earn less than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits.
  • While the U.S. economy has recovered in some respects, the unemployment rate is still incredibly high across the country.

In response to the ongoing economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last month approved a $300 increase in weekly unemployment benefits. The increase comes at a crucial time for two reasons. One, millions of Americans are still unemployed and struggling to find work. And two, the $600 increase in unemployment benefits that was part of Congress’ historic $2 trillion stimulus package back in March was phased out on July 31.

While the $600 increase was available to anyone eligible for unemployment, the $300 increase backed by FEMA operates a little bit differently. In order to receive the $300 bump, you must reside in a state that applied for and was approved for the funding. To date, 47 states have been approved for funding. As for the other three states, South Dakota has indicated it has no plan to apply while Nebraska and Nevada are still waiting for approval.

It’s also worth mentioning that a small group of people already receiving unemployment may not be eligible for the weekly $300 bump. Specifically, eligible recipients must qualify for at least $100 per week in unemployment in order to receive the $300 increase.

The New York Times reports:

Only people who qualify for at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits — either through the regular state program or a federal pandemic assistance program — are eligible for the extra federal funds.

In Colorado, for example, roughly 28,000 people, or about 6 percent currently receiving unemployment pay, will not receive the new benefit, said Cher Haavind, deputy executive director of the state Department of Labor.

As a simple example, imagine you have no earnings and live in a state that pays out $400/week in unemployment. That’s $400/week in benefits you’re entitled to.  Now imagine you have a side job that nets you $200/week. In that scenario, because you have earnings, your weekly unemployment benefits would decrease by $200. Taking it one step further, if you have a side job that nets you $301/week, you’d be completely ineligible for the $300 increase because your weekly unemployment would be $99 and just below the $100 threshold.

If you are eligible, the payments will be retroactive going back to August 1. In other words, if you were unemployed throughout August and just picked up a job at the start of this month, you’d still be eligible for an additional $1200 in unemployment benefits.

The payouts are expected to remain in place for three to five weeks. At that point, FEMA will re-evaluate which states are in need of additional funding.

A list highlighting when payments are slated to begin on a state-by-state basis can be viewed below:

Alabama – payment already started

Alaska – late October

Arizona – payment already started

Arkansas – release date hasn’t been set yet

California – payment started on September 7

Colorado – mid-September

Connecticut – mid-September

Delaware – date hasn’t been set yet

Florida – payment started on September 11

Georgia – mid-September

Hawaii – a bonus payment will be sent out, but no date has been set for the weekly $300 increase

Idaho – payment already started

Illinois – a bonus payment of $300 was sent out, but a date for weekly payouts hasn’t been set yet.

Indiana – mid to late September

Iowa – payment started in early September

Kansas – late September at the earliest

Kentucky – September

Louisiana – payments started in August

Maine – mid to late September

Maryland – late September

Massachusetts – payments already started

Michigan – payments already started

Minnesota – payments began in early September

Mississippi – mid to late September

Missouri – payment began in late August

Montana – payment began in August

New Hampshire – payment already started 

New Jersey – October

New Mexico – mid-September

New York – date not set yet

North Carolina – payment already started

North Dakota – mid-September

Ohio – mid to late September

Oklahoma – mid to late September

Oregon – date not set yet

Pennsylvania – mid-September

Rhode Island – September 12

South Carolina – mid to late September

Tennessee – payment already started

Texas payment already started

Utah – mid-September

Vermont – mid-September

Virginia – September 30

Washington – late September

West Virginia – no date set yet

Wisconsin – November

Wyoming – no date set yet

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.