FEMA $300 Unemployment Benefits: Here's When It May Start

Millions of Americans across the country are wondering when the enhanced unemployment benefit approved under President Donald Trump's executive order will begin. Passed in the beginning of August after the initial $600 benefit expired and Congress failed to approve an additional stimulus relief bill as negotiations on Capitol Hill collapsed, the measure approved a $300 weekly benefit, though when those on unemployment benefits can expect to receive that extra money will vary from state to state.

According to a memo released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agency in charge of distributing the $44 billion allocated from the Disaster Relief Fund, the tens of million Americans currently unemployed should not anticipate receiving the funds any sooner than late August. The agency noted that the funds cannot be made available to states until they apply for them. So far, seven states – Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, and Utah – have applied and been approved. South Dakota, meanwhile, has rejected the enhanced benefit.

These applications must be submitted by Thursday, Sept. 10. After FEMA receives the application, the time for it to be approved will vary, though funding for the benefit will be made available to states within one business day of its acceptance. After that, FEMA notes that "the timeframe to administer funding to individuals will vary" by each state and territory, as unemployment insurance systems must be adjusted to "access these funds and accommodate program requirements." According to an estimate from the Department of Labor, this should take approximately three weeks from Aug. 8, meaning the funds will not begin being distributed until on or after Aug. 29 at the earliest. One state, however, "has estimated it will have all payments out retroactive to August 1 in less than one week from grant award." FEMA did not note which state that was.

After these enhanced benefits begin to be distributed, Americans shouldn't expect them to last very long. The funding for the benefit is being provided by funding for the Disaster Relief Fund. According to the guidelines of the provision, the benefits will last until uses up all of the money allocated to this benefit, "the total unobligated balance of the DRF decreases to $25 billion," further legislation is enacted that provides funding for unemployment benefits, or December 27, 2020, whoever occurs soonest. Experts have estimated that given the total number of people on unemployment benefits, the $44 billion will only last five weeks.