Extra $300 unemployment update brings bad news from FEMA about the end of benefits

Those awaiting the $300 extra weekly unemployment benefit are in for bad news: The benefits are ending soon. Yes, already.

Wait, what?

Two words: fund-ing. The Lost Wages Assistance Program was created by President Trump’s August memorandum, drawing $44 billion in funding from FEMA. That’s only six or so weeks of funding. Six weeks have passed.

How do we know that the program is ending?

FEMA told multiple states that funding ended September 5. Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry posted “on Sept 9, 2020, FEMA notified L&I that the last week for [the Lost Wages Assistance] benefit program is Sept 5, 2020, due to the fund’s depletion . . . No additional payments will be allowed after Sept. 5th.” Texas, which had been approved by FEMA for six weeks of payments, will also stop paying the benefit, also effective September 5.

Does this mean that I won’t get any $300 payments?

If your state is participating in the Lost Wages Assistance Program (and nearly all states are), and you are eligible for the benefit, you will likely receive at least three weeks of payments eventually, because FEMA approved states for three weeks of payments at a time, retroactive to August 1. Some states were approved for more than three weeks. To find out your state’s situation, type in a Google News search of “Lost Wages Assistance [my state]” or check with your state’s labor department.

Is it really over before it started?

Unfortunately, yes. Most states have not even begun sending out payments. Pennsylvania started sending out checks a day after hearing that the program was kabosh; New York State is set to send out payments to 2.4 million residents next week; Maryland begins today, cued up with six weeks of payments; Florida began paying three weeks of payments this week.

Is any other aid coming?

Deep breaths: It’s not looking likely. On Thursday, a mini-stimulus bill proposed by Republicans failed in the Senate, leaving little hope of a second stimulus bill before November elections, despite bipartisan support for an aid bill. Congress just can’t agree on what that aid should look like.