Last Update: 9/1/2020.
Like many Americans, you’re probably wondering what is going on with the additional unemployment benefit program – known as the Lost Wages Assistance – that the President created in his executive order on August 8th. Note that this is a wholly different program than the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance that Congress passed in the CARES ACT back in March.
We wanted to give you an update on what we know today (as of September 1st, 2020) on this new unemployment assistance program.
What is it?
Under this program, the federal government is adding $300 per week to benefits unemployed people already receive from their states. Initially, states were supposed to pay an extra $100 from their own pocket, which would only then unlock the additional federal help and take the additional benefit (above the baseline unemployment benefit) to $400. But this rule has been modified: states are now allowed to count existing unemployment benefits toward their mandatory share. This means that if you’re currently receiving less than $100 per week, you will NOT be eligible for the extra $300. Only two states – Kentucky and Montana – said they would pay the additional extra $100. If you are receiving more than $100 per week and your stat has been approved by FEMA for the additional federal aid, then you should receive the extra $300 per week.
Where is it active?
As of August 29, 40 states have been approved by FEMA to receive the federal aid allowing them to pay this new benefit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaï, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minessota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wyoming.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, has already announced that she won’t be submitting an application to FEMA, therefore her state won’t be participating in the program.
More states applications are being approved everyday, so this list can change quickly.
When will it start?
Only 6 states have already started distributing the money: Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Texas . The other states are all stating that it will take them a while to put the new system in place, meaning that money might not be coming for another few weeks. BUT the benefit is retroactive to August 1st, so people who qualify will eventually receive the benefits for all of August.
How long will it last?
The duration of the aid will depend on how many states apply and how quickly the money runs dry – the program currently has a spending cap of $44 billion.
Call your state unemployment bureau for more specific information. You can read also this article that provides more specific information state by state.