On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill, which will direct $120 billion towards unemployment benefits.
The bill sends Americans a direct stimulus check of $600, along with extended benefits for those struggling to find work during the pandemic.
Many people have already received their second stimulus check, and those still waiting can expect a check in the coming days or weeks without having to apply. However, you will likely have to reapply or recertify to receive the $300 in federal unemployment assistance.
How Do the $300 Unemployment Benefits Work?
As of December 27, 2020, an additional $300 in unemployment benefits will be added to current state benefits. This means anyone getting state unemployment benefits because of the pandemic will be eligible to receive an additional $300. Those on unemployment for reasons other than the pandemic may not qualify for the extra $300.
As with the previous benefits, you must be unemployed because of COVID-19 and, depending on where you live, you may need to complete regular work search requirements to remain eligible.
You will need to apply for the extra benefits through your state’s local website. New applicants will need to provide income and unemployment records.
When Will the $300 Unemployment Benefits Start?
States will need time to implement the new bill, so you may have to wait a few weeks before the padded benefits reach your bank account. Most people should have access to the extra funds sometime in January, but this will vary by region. Some states have already begun rolling out the enhanced benefits this week. Those include:
- New York
- Rhode Island
Connecticut and Washington state are soon to follow, with both expecting to issue benefits by mid-January.
How Long Will the $300 Unemployment Benefits Last?
The $300 federal benefits will last 11 weeks and expires March 14.
Will This Round of Federal Unemployment be Paid Retroactively?
Unlike with previous relief bills, these payments will not be retroactive. As things stand, Americans will not be receiving any sort of compensation for the weeks following the expiration of the CARES act. There is, however, an opportunity for claimants to continue receiving benefits after the 11-weeks end.
Eligibility: Who Qualifies for the Extra $300 Unemployment Benefit?
To be eligible for the $300 a week benefit, you need to be receiving at least $100 a week in unemployment benefits from any of these programs:
- Unemployment compensation, including regular State Unemployment Compensation, Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Extended Benefits (EB)
- Short-Time Compensation (STC)
- Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)
- Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program
The $100 threshold means low-wage, part-time or seasonal workers may fail to qualify for the extra $300. The Trump administration claims this is to combat fraud. The decision to exclude low-income earners from the $300 benefit could affect up to one million Americans, according to CNBC.
Can You Apply for Unemployment Again after Benefits Run Out?
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) ends March 14, but if you haven’t exhausted all your weeks, you may qualify for another four weeks of benefits.
How much more you can qualify for after your benefits are up will depend on whether you’re a recipient of PEUC or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
When your benefits end, you can apply for Extended Benefits (EB). PEUC recipients may qualify for another 13-20 weeks of benefits through EB. This program, however, will be reserved for states with the highest levels of unemployment. This means PEUC recipients can qualify for a maximum of 70 weeks of benefits. PUA recipients can get another seven weeks of extended benefits through EB.
How the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation Works?
The mixed earner and unemployment compensation is meant to supplement the incomes of freelancers and gig workers who also happen to rely on traditional W-2 income. An example of who this applies to would be a freelance photographer who buses tables on the side.
The previous program failed to properly account for this scenario, which led to many freelancers receiving benefits well below their usual income. The new program looks to remedy that by providing these workers an additional $100 atop the $300 federal benefit.
Bents Dulcio writes with a humble, field-level view on personal finance. He learned how to cut financial corners while acquiring a B.S. degree in Political Science at Florida State University. Bents has experience with student loans, affordable housing, budgeting to include an auto loan and other personal finance matters that greet all Millennials when they graduate. He has a prodigious appetite for reading, which he helps feed with writing from Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, the “Father of Capitalism.” Bents writing also has been published by JPMorgan Chase, TheSimpleDollar and Interest.com.
- Iacurci, G. (2021 January 4) Some states start paying $300 unemployment boost while others lag. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/04/300-unemployment-boost-issued-in-california-new-york-rhode-island.html
- Tsekova, D. (2020 December 22) Everything you need to know about the unemployment benefits under the stimulus deal. Retrieved from https://money.yahoo.com/unemployment-benefits-under-the-stimulus-deal-220407120.html