- 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