Nearly a month after the $600 enhanced unemployment benefit officially expired, residents in multiple states are about to get a little extra help. As of Monday, more than half of states have been approved to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance program, which President Donald Trump approved under an executive order he signed in mid-August.
Ever since the president announced the new program, which allocated $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been approving states' applications. Although they were initially rolling in slowly, a total of 30 states have been approved. Those states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. South Dakota, meanwhile, remains the only state to announce it will not participate in the program, which is meant to act as a lifeline to the millions of Americans who remain out of work as a result of the program.
At this time, it is unclear when, exactly, each state will begin distributing the extra money in unemployment checks. A previous memo from FEMA noted that the distribution of funds would vary state by state as each state would have to update current systems. After being approved, FEMA said the funds would be made available to states within a single business day and estimated that it could take "an average of three weeks from August 8" for states to update their systems and begin distributing the funds. CNBC reports that Arizona and Texas have already paid out the claims. Meanwhile, Forbes estimated that most states will begin paying out the benefits beginning in early to mid-September.
The total amount of the enhanced benefit will also vary state by state. Under the president’s executive order, $400 was to be paid out, though only $300 of that would come from the Disaster Relief Fund. Individual states would be responsible for paying out the additional $100, something that a number of states said they cannot afford to do in the midst of the pandemic. So far, only Kentucky and Montana are opting to give an additional $100, with most other approved states only giving the additional $300.
At this time, it is unclear how long this benefit will last. Approved states are guaranteed three weeks of funding, though they could receive more depending on how many apply for the $44 billion in funding. The funding will cease once the allocated $44 billion runs dry, which some have said will happen in just four or five weeks.