When Will the Latest Coronavirus Unemployment Benefits Start? What We Know

Mr. Trump allocated $44 billion to cover the additional $300 weekly federal funded benefit in his executive order.

Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press

President Trump signed an executive order on Saturday for a federally funded $300 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits for workers laid off during the coronavirus pandemic. The payments would replace the $600 payments that expired last month. Mr. Trump called on states to provide another $100 a week, but administration officials said the state-funded benefit was optional.

Here is what we know about how unemployment benefits will work under Mr. Trump’s latest executive actions.

How much will my unemployment check be under President Trump’s executive action?

Unemployment benefits will include the regular state unemployment benefit—which averaged about $330 a week in the year through June—as well as $300 a week funded by the federal government. If a state chooses to fund an extra $100 in unemployment benefits, per Mr. Trump’s request, that could bring the total tab up to $400 a week in supplemental benefits.

How do I know if my state will fund the extra $100 in benefits?

States are currently making the decision on whether to fund this supplemental benefit. Many states are facing cash constraints due to the pandemic, and will struggle to pull from funding sources like rainy-day funds for the expanded benefits.

Governors in states such as New York and New Jersey have indicated they are unlikely to pursue Mr. Trump’s proposal that they fund 25% of the additional benefit. Ohio already decided it would distribute the extra $300 a week without providing the extra $100.

My extra $600 ran out. When do I start getting the new federal benefit?

States will distribute the new federal benefit on different timelines, depending in part on their technology. They first have to receive the funds from the federal government for the extra $300 and set up a new system to distribute the payments. “It would have to be created from scratch and run parallel with Pennsylvania’s existing unemployment-benefits programs. This is not something that any state will be able to do quickly,” a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s labor department said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he believed states could start rolling out additional federal unemployment payments within two weeks.

“It is our understanding that the funds will be made available for states to draw down after the state’s application has been approved,” a U.S. Labor Department spokesman said, referencing the fact that states must file grant applications with the federal agency providing the funds.

How long will the extra $300 last?

Mr. Trump allocated $44 billion to cover the additional $300 weekly benefit, using money set aside for disaster relief. The federal government spent an average of $16.6 billion a week on the $600 enhancement benefit in the last four weeks of July, according to Labor Department data. Reducing the benefit to half that amount for a similar number of claims would be about $8.3 billion a week. That would exhaust the $44 billion that Mr. Trump allotted in less than six weeks.

Who is eligible for expanded aid under Mr. Trump’s executive order?

Workers receiving at least $100 a week in unemployment insurance through regular state programs or others, such as a federal program for gig-economy workers, are eligible.

Who isn’t eligible?

Mr. Trump’s order said individuals collecting less than $100 a week in unemployment benefits won’t be eligible for the additional aid. Unemployment benefits are based on a calculation of a worker’s previous income, which means many lower-wage or part-time workers will be unable to receive the additional benefits.

Do I need to apply for the expanded unemployment aid?

The March stimulus law that created the extra $600 didn’t require workers to apply separately, and it doesn’t appear an application will be necessary now.

You need to be collecting regular unemployment benefits, though. People can apply for unemployment-insurance benefits on their state’s website or over the phone. During the pandemic, states recommended that people apply for benefits online given the high volume of calls.

Once an application is submitted, states process and approve applications. Weekly unemployment payments then arrive through a mailed debit card or direct deposit.

How long will my unemployment benefits last?

The additional aid won’t affect the duration of regular weekly unemployment benefits, which varies by state. The standard time to receive benefits in many states totals 26 weeks. The March stimulus law lengthened benefits by 13 weeks across states.

Write to Sarah Chaney at [email protected]

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