President Donald Trump on Sunday rescinded his veto threat and signed the $ 900 billion stimulus bill—A move that should immediately benefit millions of unemployed Americans, even though his checks for $ 600 have been heavily criticized as insufficient relief for the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
For starters, the program will bring back enhanced weekly federal unemployment benefits for those over 19 million Americans still on unemployment benefit lists. These enhanced benefits will pay $ 300 per week, in addition to state benefits, for a maximum of 11 weeks. That’s down from the $ 600 weekly payment the CARES Act sent out to unemployed Americans until the end of July.
The stimulus plan will also expand unemployment benefits in the event of a pandemic, which currently provide benefits to about 14 million unemployed Americans. These unemployed Americans, covered by programs like Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), would have lost their benefits entirely if the stimulus bill had not passed.
To help unemployed Americans better understand the impact of the latest stimulus package on their benefits, read on.
How does the weekly unemployment benefit of $ 300 work?
The stimulus bill passed in March provided a $ 600 additional per week in unemployment insurance benefits to all who have qualified for a state program. But those improved payments expired at the end of July. After the $ 600 benefit ran out, President Trump signed a memorandum in August to send an enhanced unemployment benefit of $ 300 to those receiving at least $ 100 per week in state unemployment benefits. However, in most states that money ran out months ago.
The enhanced $ 300 unemployment benefit signed by Trump is similar to the $ 600 allowance in the CARES Act, meaning it would go to anyone who qualifies for a state unemployment program or a unemployment assistance in the event of a pandemic, regardless of the level of state benefits.
Once applicants are approved for Unemployment Insurance by their state, they will automatically receive the additional $ 300 weekly federal money. All they have to do is continue to certify their benefits each week with their state.
Who is eligible for the $ 300 pandemic unemployment benefit?
The CARES law, adopted in March, expanding eligibility for unemployment benefits to include unemployed part-time workers, self-employed workers, freelancers and independent contractors. Those unemployed Americans covered by Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, as well as anyone on the state’s traditional unemployment lists, will automatically receive the new weekly federal benefit of $ 300.
And those who qualify will receive the additional $ 300 per week, regardless of their previous salary. This is in addition to their unemployment insurance benefits. For example, a worker in New York who receives the state maximum benefit of $ 504 per week would receive a total of $ 804 per week.
When will the $ 300 checks start to go out?
The enhanced $ 300 unemployment checks will be issued for the week ending December 27 through the week ending March 13. It is still unclear when the increased benefit will start depositing: The timing for receiving this improved first payment will vary by state. If the statements are late, the service will be reimbursed.
Can my unemployment benefits be greater than my income?
The additional $ 300 weekly unemployment benefits are available to those who qualify for Unemployment Insurance, regardless of their income level before losing their job. The additional weekly benefit of $ 300 is equivalent to $ 7.50 an hour for a 40-hour work week – slightly above the federal minimum wage for 2020. When combined with state benefits, some Low-income Americans could see a pay rise.
If I apply through my state, will I automatically get the federal benefits of $ 300 as part of the stimulus?
Yes. Once you have been approved by your state for unemployment insurance, you will automatically get additional weekly federal money. All you have to do is continue to certify your benefits weekly with your state.
What about advantages like PUA and PEUC?
Stimulus bill extends benefit dates for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – which expands the number of people eligible for unemployment benefits, including U.S. on-demand and self-employed workers – and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Benefit (PEUC), which grants 13 weeks of additional benefits to qualified people after exhausting 26 weeks of standard unemployment insurance.
Passage of the bill means PUA and PEUC will run until March 13, 2021 and PEUC will be reduced from 13 weeks to a maximum of 24 weeks.
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