At least 11 states this week are starting to pay out the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits under the $900 billion stimulus deal signed into law at the end of 2020. Most states should begin distributing benefits by the middle of the month.
“Largely states will be up and running by mid-January,” Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. “There will probably be a couple outliers that don't get it up for like three weeks, but I think three weeks is really the outside number.”
States such as Arizona, California, New York, and North Carolina are sending out the extra benefit this week.
Jobless Americans will get an additional $300 a week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for 11 weeks through March 14. Both workers on Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will get the extra payment added to their core weekly unemployment benefits.
New York has started paying the $300 extra benefit to unemployment recipients under all programs, while California has begun paying the benefits to those on regular UI only and not yet to jobless workers who receive PUA and PEUC.
Around 1.3 million Californians will get the extra benefit this week, according to a statement from California’s Employment Development Department, while the rest of the benefits will be distributed “as soon as the revised programming is in place.”
The extra $300 payments will not be retroactive to the winter of 2020 — as previously discussed by lawmakers — but rather start from the week of December 27. The weeks after the extra $600 under the CARES Act lapsed and the extra $300 under the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program expired are not covered by the current legislation.
Benefits under the LWA program were quickly distributed in some states, but it took some states like Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin more than two months to implement the program. The process shouldn’t take more than three weeks this time around, Evermore said, because the LWA program was harder to implement.
‘Unlikely they're paying the extra $100’
Under the new legislation, some “mixed-income” earners, who get income from both traditional and self-employed sources, now qualify for an extra $100 on top of the extra $300 a week. But it’s unknown whether states have begun paying that extra amount, which is harder to program and require additional documentation.
“It's really unlikely they're paying the extra $100,” Evermore said. “They have to figure out how to get that information from people.”
To qualify for the benefit, workers must make at least $5,000 in qualifying self-employment income annually, but it is yet unclear how states will accept the new documentation, according to Evermore. The extra $100 will be available until March 14.
Out of the $900 billion legislation, around $120 billion will go to the unemployment system, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. In addition to the extra weekly benefits, the stimulus deal also extends the original PUA and PEUC program benefits for 11 weeks and waives overpayments for some programs.
In some states, workers on PUA and PEUC may still see a lapse in their regular unemployment benefit payments — apart from the extra $300 a week — because the legislation was signed into law a day after some of the programs expired. It could take some time to reprogram them, according to Evermore.