Some Americans who qualify for extra unemployment benefits are getting $400 a week for six weeks, and other Americans are getting $300.
What gives? Will you get the larger amount of $400? The answer is that it depends on your state. Here’s how that works. It turns out that only three states approved the $400. You can find a state-by-state tracker later in this article.
Initially, the extra payments – which are shelled out on top of what states give people in unemployment benefits – amounted to $600 a week. That amount was enacted by Congress to deal with the pandemic, but Republicans grew critical that it was giving people an incentive not to work. This summer, the $600 amount expired.
With Congress deadlocked on extra unemployment benefit extension, along with other issues, President Donald Trump stepped forward and authorized an extension of the benefits in a press conference. In that press conference, the president said people would get $400, although he did clarify that the federal government would only pay 75% of that, leaving the rest to the states. And here’s the kicker: The states didn’t have to kick in the extra $100.
Some didn’t. Some did. That’s why some people are getting $400 and some people are getting $300, retroactively, for a time period that ended September 5. When you will get the checks also varies by state because states needed to apply for the extra money, and they did so at different points in time. States also had to process the payments, which can take weeks and also varies. Some are dispensing the extra money in lump sum checks, and some are not.
The lump sum for states approving $300 is $1,800 and for those giving $400, it’s $2,400.
Here’s what you need to know:
What Your State Authorized
You can find information about your state here.
According to the tracker, only Kentucky, Montana, and West Virginia authorized the extra $100 to boost people to $400. South Dakota didn’t authorize any extra unemployment benefits.
That means if you’re in another state, the amount you would get is $300 per week for the six-week retroactive time period. Could extra unemployment benefits be extended once again? That’s always possible, but it would take Congressional agreement, and right now Democrats and Republicans are at loggerheads over a variety of stimulus relief issues, including the overall cost of a plan and aid to state and local governments. With the election looming, it seems less and less likely that either side would want to hand the other a victory in the mind of the public. After the election could be another story depending on the state of the economy and who gets control of the Senate and White House.
FEMA Approved Six Weeks of Extra Unemployment Benefits
The federal government chose the overall amount people will get by setting the time limit for extra benefits at six weeks.
According to CNBC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, otherwise known as FEMA, set that time limit.
A federal Emergency Management Agency spokesperson told CNBC, “States should plan to make payments to eligible claimants for no more than six weeks from the week ending Aug. 1, 2020.”
FEMA originally planned to authorize only three weeks of benefits, according to CBS News.
A FEMA spokesperson told CBS News: “Regardless of where the states and territories are in their process to receive and distribute the FEMA funding, FEMA will fund six weeks in $300 supplemental unemployment benefits to every state and territory that has applied for this assistance by September 10.”