FEMA Unemployment Benefits: Here's Who Is Currently Eligible

The "lost wages assistance" program in President Donald Trump's executive order is expected to roll out soon, but not everyone will be eligible for the relief. For one thing, states must apply to receive the aid, and so far only four states have qualified. For another, not every unemployed individual will be approved.

The lost wages assistance program will draw funds from FEMA's disaster relief fund to add $300 to qualifying unemployment payments, to help offset the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report by CNBC, Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana and New Mexico have all applied and been qualified for the program, so to start only Americans in those states will receive aid. Even then, people must have already qualified for the other unemployment programs to reap the benefits of this one.

To be eligible for the lost wages assistance program, Americans will reportedly need to have already qualified for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and state-administered extended benefits. Additionally, to qualify, Americans must already be earning at least $100 a week from these existent programs.

This means that an estimated 1 million of the lowest-paid workers in the country will be excluded from Trump's program, as their unemployment is not that high. Of all people, critics are wondering why Trump's program specifically excludes these workers.

There are many strange quirks emerging in this program at is goes from Trump's executive order to an actionable plan. At first, Trump's order indicated that the program would provide a bonus of $400 per week to unemployed Americans, as long as their state-paid 25 percent. However, states are now allowed to count their existing unemployment structure towards that $100, so in most cases, Americans will only be receiving $300 more than usual.


Some states do not see it as worth the trouble. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Friday that her state would not take part in the program, while other states are undecided. They have until Sept. 10 to apply if they want to qualify.

Even then, the payments are likely to net each individual a maximum of $900, as there is only enough funding to cover three weeks of the lost wages assistance program. The program is scheduled to run until Dec. 6, unless the Senate and Congress can agree on another stimulus package before then.