What We Know About The Future Of Unemployment Benefits

In early August, President Trump approved an executive action that directed funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support out-of-work Americans after the supplemental payments provided by the CARES Act expired. While far from the $600 recipients originally received, the move extended an additional $300 per week to qualifying recipients.

However, the deadline for that provision is also drawing near. There is still uncertainty over the fate of the next stimulus package. House leaders have maintained ongoing talks with White House officials, but the Senate will not return to Capitol Hill until November 9. Depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s election, it is difficult to say when struggling Americans will finally receive more relief.

When Will Lawmakers Approve More Unemployment Assistance?

Last Friday, President Trump told reporters that “We will have a tremendous stimulus package immediately after the election.” The bill in question has a $1.9 trillion price tag and features provisions for enhanced unemployment insurance.

But during an interview with The High Hewitt Show later that day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remarked that additional relief should wait until the beginning of next year. Since McConnell heads the Senate, he controls the voting schedule.

Supplemental unemployment benefits are one of the most significant points of contention between Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Since the first round of relief offered by the CARES Act ended over the summer, little progress has been made in the next piece of legislation.

In early October, President Trump ordered the GOP to end negotiations until after the election. Although he recanted a few days later, talks continued to languish for the rest of the month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have met repeatedly over the last several months, but neither has much to show for their efforts.

What States Still Provide The Extra $300 Per Week?

Under the president’s executive action, the federal government created the Lost Wages Assistance program (LWA). This program allocated FEMA funding to provide recipients with an additional $300 each week for six weeks. It started on August 1, which means recipients will soon stop receiving the extra benefits.

In addition, the LWA also mandated that states supplement the $300 with $100 in state funding, offering recipients an opportunity to get $400 each week. However, since the LWA gave states the option to provide the added $100, some Americans are only receiving $300.

South Dakota was the only state to refuse federal government funding, so residents are limited to their government’s amount. Meanwhile, several states that agreed to the LWA program have stopped issuing the $100 due to exhausted state budgets.

These states currently offer the additional $300 payments:

 

  • Arkansas
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

 

What Happens To The Extra Benefits If Congress Doesn’t Pass More Assistance?

While some of the most significant programs created in the CARES Act have ended, several — such as extended unemployment benefits — are still available until December 31, 2020. The extended unemployment program provides out-of-work Americans with a maximum of 39 weeks of unemployment benefits, rather than the usual 26 weeks. Some states have agreed to continue this extension through next year.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is another measure scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The PUA program broadened eligibility requirements for regular unemployment to gig workers, the self-employed, and independent contractors, who are typically excluded.

What Is Biden’s Plan For Unemployment?

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released his idea for the next stimulus package if he wins the election. This plan contains more funding for supplemental unemployment insurance, though it fails to clarify how much workers would receive.

Where Do I Go To Find Out If I Can Receive Unemployment?

Every state has its own eligibility requirements, but you typically qualify for benefits if you were furloughed or laid off through no fault of your own. Most workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic can be eligible under this criteria. 

How Are Unemployment Benefits Calculated?

Like eligibility requirements, each state offers different payouts. Generally, the amount you get each week depends on your earnings from the previous year. The average recipient receives anywhere from $300 to $600.

 

Source
  • Gonzalez, Oscar. “More Unemployment Benefits for Jobless Americans? Here’s What We Know Right Now.” CNET, CNET, 2 Nov. 2020, www.cnet.com/personal-finance/more-unemployment-benefits-for-jobless-americans-heres-what-we-know-right-now/.

 

Ian Schindler