$300 Weekly Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits Approved For Majority Of States

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Updated 8/26.

When the President signed the executive memorandum, titled “Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019,” and created a new $300 per week federal unemployment benefit – many were not sure whether it would be challenged in court.

Now, with the majority of states approved to disburse additional benefits and Arizona making actual payments, it appears that the memorandum will achieve its intended effect – putting more money into the pockets of unemployed Americans.

What Is The $300 Weekly Benefit?

The executive memorandum created the Lost Wages Assistance program, which called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to begin issuing grants to states to pay out a $300 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit to eligible unemployed Americans.

The benefits would be disbursed from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF), which received a $45 billion infusion from the Cares Act.

The Lost Wages Assistance program would continue paying benefits until:

  • It disbursed $44 billion, or,
  • The DRF balance reaches $25 billion, or,
  • The end of the program, which runs through December 6th.

States would have to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program, after updating their unemployment systems, and states would be issued their grants.

Are You Eligible?

Unlike the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit provided by the Cares Act, this one has a requirement – you must receive at least $100 a week in state benefits to be eligible.

If you don’t qualify for at least $100 in state benefits, you won’t get the additional $300.

Which States Have Been Approved?

As of August 25th, the majority of states have been approved by FEMA to make the extra $300 per week payment.

The states include, along with the approval date:

  • Alabama: 8/21/2020
  • Alaska: 8/23/2020
  • Arizona: 8/15/2020
  • Arkansas: 8/25/2020
  • California: 8/21/2020
  • Colorado: 8/16/2020
  • Connecticut: 8/24/2020
  • Georgia: 8/23/2020
  • Idaho: 8/19/2020
  • Indiana: 8/21/2020
  • Iowa: 8/15/2020
  • Kentucky: 8/21/2020
  • Louisiana: 8/15/2020
  • Maine: 8/25/2020
  • Maryland: 8/19/2020
  • Massachusetts: 8/21/2020
  • Michigan: 8/21/2020
  • Mississippi: 8/22/2020
  • Missouri: 8/16/2020
  • Montana: 8/18/2020
  • New Hampshire: 8/24/2020
  • New Mexico: 8/15/2020
  • New York: 8/23/2020
  • North Carolina: 8/21/2020
  • Oklahoma: 8/18/2020
  • Pennsylvania: 8/24/2020
  • Rhode Island: 8/22/2020
  • Tennessee: 8/22/2020
  • Texas: 8/21/2020
  • Utah: 8/16/2020
  • Vermont: 8/22/2020
  • Washington: 8/24/2020

South Dakota is the only state that has publicly declined the $300 weekly benefit but states have until September 10th to apply.

If you are wondering when and how you will receive benefits, your state’s unemployment department will have more information. In many cases, the amounts will be added to current unemployment benefits and you will just see a larger payment.

As for the timing of payments, it depends on how quickly your state’s systems can be updated. Arizona was approved on August 15th and sent out additional benefits on the 17th, much faster than any other state.

By comparison, Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment said claimants will begin receiving benefits in “mid to late September.” Colorado was approved for the program on August 16th.

FEMA has issued guidance that they will only approve 3 weeks of initial funding as it approves additional applications. Since it takes some time for states to provide the necessary information, they are ensuring that the program will be able to send some benefits to all states before the program ends.

With the next stimulus package negotiations on hold, many unemployed Americans are looking to the Lost Wages Assistance program for help. The program is no substitute for actual unemployment insurance but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Fortunately, FEMA is working very quickly to approve states.

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