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Stimulus talks have restarted…again.


Angela Lang/CNET

The extra $300 unemployment weekly payment is over in some states. The bonus money referred to as Lost Wage Assistance was a temporary band-aid created by an executive memo by President Donald Trump to help Americans who were left unemployed due to the pandemic after funds from the Cares Act from March expired.Congressional Democrats and Republicans were in the middle of negotiations Tuesday for more stimulus money — that could have included a second stimulus check — when Trump tweeted he was ending any further talks until after the November election. On Friday, he appears to have changed his mind once again calling for a bigger relief package

States that already exhausted the $300 bonus provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency won’t be able to provide additional funds to their unemployment benefits until another stimulus bill is passed. Other states are still in the process of sending their first bonus checks out. Read on for everything else we know. 

Read more: Coronavirus unemployment: Who is covered, how to apply and how much it pays

Which states are ending the $300 bonus? Wasn’t it $400?

Trump’s executive memo called for the federal government to supply $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits for six weeks, starting retroactively on Aug. 1. Those states that already received and sent out LWA funds to unemployment recipients have reached their six weeks, meaning the bonus checks will come to an end soon. 

The president also called on each state to provide an additional $100, for a total of $400 per week in enhanced unemployment pay, though that’s since been made optional.

FEMA approved the LWA program for six weeks to 49 states, along with Guam and Washington DC. South Dakota is the only state to choose not to apply for assistance. Arizona was the first state to send out the $300 bonus, on Aug. 17.

Here are the states that announced the end of the $300 bonus: 

Those states that have yet to send out the $300 bonus should be sending the extra money in the coming weeks, either in weekly deposits or in one lump-sum amount of $1,800. 

Is more enhanced unemployment money coming?

Enhanced unemployment was on the agenda in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats since the initial weekly bonus established in the Cares Act expired at the end of July.  Trump squashed any further talks Tuesday in a tweet. 

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” he tweeted.

House Speaker Nacy Pelosi released a statement shortly after Trump’s tweet, saying he “showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country.”

The Democratic nominee competing with Trump in November, former Vice President Joe Biden, released a statement Tuesday reacting to the president’s actions to stop negotiations. 

“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” he said. 

Following his tweets to cancel negotiations, Trump took to Twitter Tuesday evening to say he would sign stand-alone bills to bail out airline companies, put more money into the Paycheck Protection Program and authorize another round of stimulus checks, but he didn’t mention whether he would sign a bill to extend enhanced unemployment.

Negotiations started up Thursday and on Friday, the White House increased the stimulus package to $1.8 trillion according to a report from CNBC. The amount is still less than the $2.2 trillion put forth by the House Democrats, but more than the $1.6 trillion the Republicans were offering. The president made an appearance on The Rush Limbaugh Show Friday and said he wanted to see even more stimulus money and tweeted that negotiations were moving along. 

“Go big,” he said. 

LWA worth up to $6,600 less than the CARES Act

The executive memorandum signed by the president provides $300 to unemployment benefits recipients. These funds are in addition to a state’s standard payouts for those unemployed, which ranges from $300-$600 a week in most states. 

As for the additional $100 stipulated in Trump’s memo, most states already said they wouldn’t be able to afford the amount with the exception so far being West Virginia. 

How much you’ll really get

Aug. 1 – Sept. 1 Sept. 1 – Oct. 1 Oct. 1 – Nov. 1 Nov. 1 – Dec 1 Dec. 1 – Dec. 27 Total by Dec. 27
Full $400 weekly benefit (federal and state) $2,000 $1,600 $1,600 $2,000 $1,600 $8,800
Partial $300 weekly benefit (federal only) $1,500 $1,200 $1,200 $1,500 $1,200 $6,600
$600 weekly benefit (CARES Act) $3,000 $2,400 $2,400 $3,000 $2,400 $13,200

Who isn’t eligible for the additional unemployment check?

There will be some people receiving unemployment payments who will not be able to take advantage of additional funding. The US Department of Labor (PDF) on Aug. 11 sent out guidance about the eligibility requirements for the LWA. Claimants would have to be eligible for a minimum $100 from a state’s unemployment benefits program to qualify for the additional $300 federal funds. This would disqualify 1 million people, according to the New York Times. 

What is the HEALS Act?

The White House and Senate Republicans agreed on the terms of an aid package, with a proposal, called the HEALS Act, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on July 27. The $1 trillion package addresses several programs created or modified by the CARES Act such as unemployment insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Income Payments.

The GOP has proposed reducing the enhanced unemployment benefit from $600 per week to $200. Then, in September, the benefit would be adjusted and combined with the states’ unemployment offerings to equal 70% of a worker’s wage. 

If Congress decides to reinstate a federal unemployment benefit bonus — in any amount — it will likely take two to four weeks for payments to flow to states and then recipients, according to the Economic Policy Institute. So far, the proposal has been introduced only in the Senate. Democratic congressional leaders are currently negotiating with the GOP on the particulars of the plan. 

What is the CARES Act?

Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March to help Americans and US businesses after cities began locking down due to the pandemic. Included in the package was additional unemployment aid for people who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. 

Since shelter-in-place rules were put in place, tens of millions of Americans have received the extra federal unemployment aid. With states providing between $235 and $1,220 per week in assistance, the additional $600 per week has been a major component of many people’s financial lifeline. 

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Tens of millions of Americans face dire financial straits.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Who was eligible for enhanced unemployment? 

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’re eligible to apply for unemployment benefits from the state where you live. Once the state approves your claim, you’re eligible to receive whatever state benefits you’re entitled to. Because states cover 30% to 50% of a person’s wages — some states provide more while others offer less — the extra $600 from the federal government was added on to help fill the gap. 

How does the CARES Act help people who have been laid off or furloughed? 

Each state has its own criteria for who is eligible to receive unemployment — and what those benefits entail. This includes how much money you’re eligible to receive, which is usually based on your income and how long you’re eligible to receive it, which is usually based on how long you held your most recent job. The CARES Act provided a booster fund — adding up to $600 extra per week — while also extending states’ unemployment benefits to a maximum of 39 weeks instead of the typical 26 weeks. 

How are unemployment benefits calculated?

The state determines how much each applicant will receive, usually based on an individual’s gross income. It varies from state to state but is typically between $300 and $600. 

How can I find out if I’m eligible for unemployment benefits?

Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but the general rule is that you should apply if you’ve lost your job or been furloughed through no fault of your own. This would include a job lost directly or indirectly to the current pandemic. 

How are different states handling this?

Again, the benefit duration and amount varies. Most states provide up to 26 weeks of funding, though others, such as Georgia, limit benefits to 12 weeks. On the other hand, Delaware will provide benefits for up to 30 weeks. The weekly benefit amount depends on an applicant’s gross income when they were employed and ranges between $300 and $600, with some exceptions. Mississippi pays up to $235, while Massachusetts’ maximum is $1,220.

Where can I find more information about my state’s policy?

Each state’s labor office provides more information about its particular unemployment benefits.

How did the CARES Act help people who are self-employed? 

The CARES Act also created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to individuals who would not normally be eligible for unemployment benefits from the states such as gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors and small business owners whose income has been affected by the pandemic. Under the CARES Act, PUA funding will be available until Dec. 31, 2020. 

source: cnet.com

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