It’s been a few weeks since Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus package, extending federal unemployment relief programs. The coronavirus pandemic stimulus bill also included extra unemployment payments of up to $400 a week, contingent on the kind of work you do.
But depending on where you live, you may still be waiting for that benefit. Here’s how to figure out if you qualify, when to expect your first payment—if you’re still waiting for one—how much you can expect to get, and for how long.
Who qualifies for extra weekly unemployment payments?
All workers who get regular unemployment benefits should be eligible for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program’s additional weekly $300 benefits, beginning the week ending January 2. Anyone who receives at least $1 in unemployment aid qualifies.
Some workers who are self-employed or have side gigs, but who also earned some regular wages, may get an additional $100 a week. To be eligible for the additional Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, you must have earned at least $5,000 a year in 2019 in self-employment income, but be disqualified from receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as you’re eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, too.
But there’s another twist, too. States can choose whether to participate in the additional mixed earners unemployment compensation program. According to mixedincome.org, a site set up by the Future of Music Coalition to support those who are eligible, Idaho and South Dakota have not opted into the program. (It appeared that Mississippi had opted out too, initially, but is now participating.)
That said, the majority of states have indicated they are participating in the program and working to distribute funds to those who qualify.
Which states have begun paying out the weekly supplemental unemployment benefits?
At least 43 states have now gone live with the new pandemic weekly unemployment benefits, although some were quicker to begin distributing payments than others. Click on the state below for more information on when funds began going out and who’s eligible. (Washington D.C. has also started distributing payments.)
Note: Ohio said it has started issuing new weekly $300 federal pandemic unemployment compensation payments to those who did not exhaust their benefits before the initial CARES Act program expired on Dec. 27, but is still processing others.
Which states have not begun paying out the new federal unemployments benefits?
Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment is rolling out the benefits in phases, and is expected to start late this coming week with the $300 weekly bonus going to all those on unemployment. It will also allow non-traditional workers who have not yet exhausted their federal pandemic relief to reopen their claim.
Ohio said it is still processing payments for the additional 11 weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation due to eligible residents, noting this week, “We are working as quickly as possible to implement FPUC for the additional 11 weeks of PUA and PEUC. All claimants will receive all benefits for which they are eligible.”
Pennsylvania just announced that the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program extension will be available starting Sunday, January 24. (Note that some other states that have begun issuing FPUC to residents already receiving regular unemployment benefits may also still be in the midst of insuring payments go out to all those who qualify for the extended PUA and PEUC programs. Click on your state’s link for more information.)
How long will the extended federal unemployment payments last?
Under the terms of the legislation passed in December, those eligible can get up to 11 payments. While the rollout of payments can vary state to state, all eligible workers will be entitled to the full 11 weeks of extended benefits laid out in the act, regardless of when they get their first payment. Any delayed payments should be paid retroactively to Dec. 27, 2020.
The current program is set to end in mid-March. But President Joseph Biden has proposed a new $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which would further extend federal unemployment benefits. Congress is expected to start discussing the proposed package in the coming days.