On Aug. 8, President Trump issued an executive order under which the federal government would provide an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The original plan was for each state to provide an additional $100 in weekly benefits, for a total of $400.
However, many states balked at that requirement due to budgetary concerns, and state contributions are now optional. States can choose whether they'll participate in this program and accept the additional $300 per week in federal benefits. They can also decide whether they'll offer the extra $100 per week from their own funds.
Here's a full breakdown of how these extra unemployment benefits work and the most recent information on which states will offer them.
How the extra unemployment benefits work
The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program is being run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Labor, but the benefits themselves are paid out through state unemployment departments. This is how the program works:
- States have until Sept. 10 to apply. If a state doesn't apply, then its claimants won't receive the additional federal unemployment benefits.
- Benefits are retroactive to Aug. 1 except in states that have elected to make them retroactive to July 26.
- The federal benefit amount is $300 per week, and states have the option of adding another $100 per week from their own funds.
- Claimants will receive these additional benefits along with their normal unemployment payments, so the payment method will be the same. Payment methods depend on the state and what the claimant has set up, but they may be by check, direct deposit to a prepaid debit card, or direct deposit to a bank account.
Claimants who qualify for unemployment benefits under either their state's guidelines or the expanded CARES Act guidelines will remain eligible for these additional benefits as long as both of the following are true:
- They receive at least $100 per week from their normal unemployment benefits.
- They self-certify that they are unemployed due to COVID-19.
FEMA is authorized to fund the program with up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund or until the balance of that fund reaches $25 billion. To provide an approximate timeframe of how long this program could run, $44 billion is expected to last five or six weeks, although it will depend on the number of states that participate. Some states have announced that they were approved for three weeks of federal funding to start.
Considering the short funding timeframe, LWA seems to be more of a stopgap than a long-term solution.
Which states are participating?
The following states have been approved for the LWA program:
- New Mexico
Here are more details on the status of each state's extra unemployment benefits, including any current information on when payouts will start and how much claimants will receive.
Arizona's application was approved on Aug. 15 and it became the first state to send out these additional unemployment benefits on Aug. 17. The additional benefit amount is $300.
Colorado's application was approved on Aug. 16. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment estimates that payments of these additional benefits will begin in mid to late-September. Payments will be retroactive to July 26. The state hasn't decided whether to contribute the additional $100 per week yet.
Idaho's application was approved on Aug. 19. There is currently no information about when payments will begin. The governor's office has announced that the additional benefit amount is $300 and payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1.
Iowa's application was approved on Aug. 15. There is currently no information about when payments will begin. Iowa Workforce Development has announced that claimants will qualify for an additional $300.
Louisiana's application was approved on Aug. 15. The governor has announced that payments of an additional $300 should begin during the week of Aug. 24 to Aug. 28.
Maryland's application was approved on Aug. 19. The governor's office has announced that payments of an additional $300 should begin in late September.
Missouri's application was approved on Aug. 16. There is currently no information about when payments will begin. The governor has said he supports contributing the additional $100 if the state can find a way to do so.
Montana's application was approved on Aug. 18. There is currently no information about when payments will begin. The Montana Department of Labor & Industry has announced that the state will contribute the additional $100 to bring the weekly additional benefit amount to $400.
New Mexico's application was approved on Aug. 15. There is currently no information on when payments will begin. The state has announced that it will not contribute the additional $100.
Oklahoma's application was approved on Aug. 18. There is currently no information on when payments will begin. The governor's office has announced that it will not contribute the additional $100.
Utah's application was approved on Aug. 16. The Utah Department of Workforce Services estimates that it could take up to four weeks to pay these additional benefits. Payments will be retroactive to July 26. It has also announced that it will not contribute the additional $100.
States that are in the application process
The following states have either applied for the LWA program and are waiting to be approved or have announced that they will apply for the program:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- West Virginia*
*These states have indicated they will contribute the additional $100.
States that have declined extra unemployment benefits
The following states have announced that they won't be applying for the LWA program:
- New York
- South Dakota
Not all states have decided
If you don't see your state on any of those lists, then it hasn't yet made an official announcement on whether it will apply for the LWA program. States need time to review President Trump's executive order, especially since it was updated so that the additional $100 weekly contribution on each state's part was optional instead of a requirement. The program also requires states to set up new systems to pay out the additional benefits.
This is obviously frustrating, especially when coronavirus has cut your income and you could use these benefits. But states have a few more weeks to apply, so you should find out soon enough.
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