Many people were counting on, and really need, the extra unemployment benefits promised by the U.S. government. Those enhanced benefits expired weeks ago, and in early August, President Donald Trump promised Americans that they would see a $400 extra weekly benefit, down from the $600 extra weekly benefit that went into place in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump reduced the amount because he and other Republicans felt $600 gave Americans an incentive not to work. It’s been weeks since Trump made the $400 promise, though. If you’re someone who needs these extra benefits, you may be wondering when you can expect to receive them and whether you will really receive the full $400.
There were questions about the legality of Trump’s executive order from the start because the U.S. Constitution grants funding authority to Congress, not the president. However, it appears that the extra benefits will start going out. When and how much you will receive depends on your state. That’s because the federal government is only paying $300 of the extra $400. A round-up by Forbes of each state shows that most states are only going to dispense the $300 without tacking on the extra $100. The Trump administration left that decision up to states. A few states are giving people the full $400.
In fact, when the Senate Majority Leader unveiled a “skinny bill” of targeted relief on September 8, they did include $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits. However, Democrats and Republicans are clashing verbally over the skinny bill.
When you will receive this money also depends on your state. However, states are typically requiring several weeks to process the new checks, so don’t expect to see any money until late September, October or even early November in some cases. Two states have already started sending out the benefits.
Here’s what you need to know:
Extra Unemployment Checks Will Take Weeks to Process, With Many States Aiming to Get the Money in People’s Hands by October
Forbes has compiled a thorough list of which states have approved sending out extra unemployment benefits, as well as how much and when they will go out, updated as of September 7. The funding is technically called the FEMA Lost Wages Assistance program.
West Virginia, Montana, Kentucky and Vermont did approve sending out $400 checks, but other states are granting $300 checks, at least so far. In many states, the checks won’t start going out until mid- or late September.
In Wisconsin, the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted approval for the extra $300 on September 1. Thus, it is taking a while for the proposal to wind its way through the federal government. According to a press release from FEMA dated September 1, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved Wisconsin “for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow Wisconsin to provide $300 per week — on top of their regular unemployment benefit — to those unemployed due to COVID-19. FEMA will work with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to implement a system to make this funding available to Wisconsin residents.” That starts the ball rolling for $300 of the possible $400 additional benefit. But the state of Wisconsin says it will take eight weeks to start providing the extra benefits (from September 1). In that state, the payments will be “Retroactive to week ending August 1, 2020.”
California’s payments were approved in late August, and the state will begin processing them on September 7, but it could take at least three weeks. New York has not given people a date for when the state would start processing the checks.
Texas, Louisiana and Arizona have already started paying people the extra money.
Trump Promised People an Extra $400 in His Executive Order Press Conference
In his press conference announcing the extended federal unemployment benefits, Trump said, “I’m taking action to provide an additional or extra $400 a week and expanded benefits, $400. That’s generous but we want to take care of our people.”
This is really up to the states, though; they have to apply for the $300 benefit and, as noted, if they want to give people $400, they have to come up with the extra $100. Trump did note in his press conference that the federal government’s contribution would be 75% of that total.
The president explained why he didn’t approve $600, saying, “This is the money they need, this is the money they want, this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.” He added, “There was a difficulty with the 600 number because it really was a disincentive.” Republicans have stated for weeks that they think $600 gave Americans a disincentive to work.
The president also claimed states could come up with the extra 25%.
“If they don’t they don’t. That’s going to be their problem. I don’t think their people will be too happy,” the president said. “They have the money. The states have the money. It’s sitting there,” he said. He added that he hopes Congress would come back to negotiate on more. He said he believed it would “go very rapidly through the courts.”