It’s been nearly a month since since President Donald Trump issued an executive action establishing a lost wages assistance program to provide weekly supplemental unemployment benefits to millions of Americans who’ve lost jobs or had wages cut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since then, nearly every state has applied for and been approved to issue the extra $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits for at least three weeks. And five states have indicated they will kick in an additional $100 a week to boost the weekly benefits to $400 for those who qualify.
Which states have yet to be approved, and which will offer additional benefits? Here’s how to track what your state is offering.
Which states are approved for the $300 extra federal unemployment benefits?
In order to receive funds, states need to submit an application and a plan for administering the funds to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which has been charged with dispersing money from the Disaster Relief Fund for the lost wages program.
By September 2, FEMA had approved 45 states’ applications: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The remaining states include: Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey and South Dakota.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced last week that the state would apply for the funds, and the state also plans to kick in $100 per week. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced on August 25 that the state had begun the application process. New Jersey submitted its application at the end of last week. And Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts said he’s still analyzing the state costs involved in participating in the federal program. South Dakota has opted out.
States have until Sept. 10 to apply.
Some states that have been approved like Arizona are already paying out the additional benefits. Others have indicated plans to do so within the next couple of weeks.
Which states plan to provide another $100 in weekly benefits?
Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Vermont and West Virginia have all indicated they will provide an additional $100 per week.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state will provide an extra $100 in weekly benefits using remaining CARES Act funds at a cost of approximately $24 million for three weeks of coverage, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice also said his state will tap remaining CARES Act funds to provide an addition $100 a week to beneficiaries, as did Montana’s Labor Department.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott said last week that he’s requested $20 million in coronavirus relief funding from the state’s legislature to provide an additional $100 per week to eligible claimants for three weeks.
Who qualifies for supplemental unemployment benefits and for how long?
Under the executive memorandum, unemployed residents must have been receiving at least $100 a week in regular unemployment assistance in order to qualify for the supplemental federal benefits. (Some states, like Idaho, are looking into ways to provide additional aid to those getting less than $100 a week.)
The additional unemployment assistance can go to those receiving benefits from regular state unemployment assistance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and state-administered extended benefits.
FEMA is only guaranteeing three weeks of funding to approved states. After that, the agency said any additional disbursements will be made on a weekly basis to ensure enough funding is available for other states that apply for the grant assistance.
Trump’s executive action directs up to $44 billion of existing funding from the Disaster Relief Fund can be used toward the federal supplemental unemployment benefits. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that’s only enough to provide about five weeks of federal supplemental benefits. It’s possible some states could get more than others, depending on when they applied and whether they ask for additional weeks of funding.
The payments are retroactive to August 1, when the $600 supplemental unemployment benefits approved under the CARES Act expired. That means the initial round of new payments would go to those who were receiving unemployment assistance during the three-week period after those $600 benefits expired. The supplemental aid will typically come through with regular state unemployment benefits to recipients.
After federal funds run out, the administration has indicated states would need to cover the costs to continue paying out supplemental unemployment benefits. Many states have indicated they do not have the financial means to do so.
It is possible that Congress will pass legislation to extend the federal supplemental benefits further after it reconvenes on September 8. Earlier talks between Democratic and GOP leaders broke down, but both sides have agreed on the need for some type of supplemental benefit.
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