For the tens of millions of Americans still out of work as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order extending enhanced unemployment benefits couldn't come soon enough. The earlier instated $600 benefit, which passed under the CARES Act, expired July 31, leaving many without what some have considered a lifeline. But after the president's order lengthening the bonus, when can Americans expect the $400 unemployment bonus to start?
Under the executive order, the enhanced benefit starts the week ending Aug. 1, meaning the benefits will be retroactive to that date. However, that does not mean that Americans can expect to see this benefit showing up on their next unemployment check because states must make changes to their unemployment insurance systems to distribute these funds. According to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who discussed the benefits during a press briefing with Trump Monday, said that "within the next week or two, most of the states will be able to execute," Forbes reports. Speaking to CBS News, however, Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, cast doubt that the process will be that quick, stating, "we're lucky if anyone gets this money in August. It's more likely to be in September at the earliest."
There are plenty of caveats to the bonus, though, that those currently on unemployment benefits should be aware of. Although the president signed the executive order to extend the benefit at $400, not everyone may receive that full amount. Under the president's request, the federal government will provide $300 in additional aid and the states will contribute another $100. Several governors have already said the $100 per-person contribution is "impossible" for states that are already facing economic hardships due to the pandemic. In such cases, workers may only receive a $300 bonus rather than the promised $400.
The order also limits eligibility. According to the order, only "out-of-work Americans receiving more than $100 a week in state unemployment insurance are eligible for the federal aid." The Washington Post's Jeff Stein said that this could potentially block payments from going to the lowest 10% to 15% of unemployment insurance earners. This has already gained opposition.
At this time, it remains unclear if another stimulus package, which may or may not be on the way, will target unemployment benefits. The current benefit from Trump is scheduled to last for roughly for or five weeks, or until the $44 billion from the nation's Disaster Relief Fund runs dry.