Haven’t Gotten Your Extra $300/Wk Jobless Benefit Yet? Here’s What’s Going On

An employee assists a person filling out employment in front of the Department of Employment Security in Pearl, Miss.
An employee of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security WIN Job Center in Pearl, Miss., left, assists a client fill out paperwork, Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. Rogelio V. Solis / AP Photo

For the vast majority of states, the boosted jobless benefits program — authorized by President Trump — ended before the enhanced payments reached any wallets. 

But that’s not to say you won’t be seeing some additional relief if you’re unemployed and living in one of those states.

On Aug. 8, Trump unveiled the Lost Wages Assistance program, which boosts state unemployment benefits by $300 per week for a limited time. According to the executive order, those payments are backdated to Aug. 1. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees funding for the program, recently told the Associated Press that it has enough money to only cover an estimated six weeks of enhanced payments. The clock started ticking Aug. 1.

Pro Tip

Due to the limitations in funding, the Lost Wages Assistance program will only boost payments for the weeks of Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 15, Aug. 22, Aug. 29 and Sept. 5.

According to an analysis by The Penny Hoarder, 39 states and Washington D.C. did not roll out the enhanced payments by Sept. 5, the final week eligible for FEMA funding.

Those 40 locations include: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

See if you’re eligible for the federal unemployment boost and find answers to FAQs in our guide to the Lost Wages Assistance program.

If you’re an eligible resident of one of those states, your enhanced unemployment payments will come — just not on a week-by-week basis like your typical unemployment benefit. Instead, the program works retroactively.

How States Are Handling Retroactive Payments

All states and territories participating in the president’s Lost Wages Assistance program will have to issue at least some retroactive payments due to the program being backdated to Aug. 1. 

For the 39 states and D.C., mentioned above, the program is entirely retroactive because they weren’t able to pay out the boosted benefits by Sept. 5.

Whether your state has begun making boosted payments or not, those funds are still available for the weeks of Aug. 1 to Sept. 5. What the LWA program running out of money means is that the federal funds are unavailable for any weeks after Sept. 5.

Possible payment methods include:

  • Mixed — retroactive and up-to-date weekly payments
  • Fully retroactive with multiple lump-sum payments
  • Fully retroactive with one lump-sum payment

Early adopters of the program made mixed payments, some retroactive and some up-to-date weekly payments. 

Take Arizona. On Aug. 17, it became the first state to implement LWA payments. The state’s unemployment agency had to issue the first two payments retroactively, for Aug.1 and Aug. 8. Then it switched to a week-by-week payment method.

The program for 39 states and D.C. will be fully retroactive. The payments will not come on a week-by-week basis. Instead, those unemployment agencies are issuing lump-sum payments which include the funds for several weeks.

Depending on your state, you may receive one lump-sum payment, accounting for all six weeks. Or you may receive multiple lump-sum payments that combine some of the six weeks.

New Hampshire is an example of a state issuing one lump-sum payment retroactively. The one-time payment includes all eligible weeks, according to the state’s unemployment agency. If you are an eligible resident of New Hampshire for all six weeks, you should receive a deposit or check with an extra one-time payment of $1,800 ($300 x 6).

Alternatively, California will split its lump-sum payments. The state’s unemployment agency announced Sept. 10 that it will issue at least two retroactive, lump-sum payments. The first payment includes three weeks (or $900) and covers Aug. 1 through Aug. 15. The state plans to issue a similar lump-sum payment for the remaining three weeks.

Other State-By-State Differences

Retroactive payments aside, you may still be wondering: How much extra is my state paying? And when will those payments hit my bank account? The Penny Hoarder analyzed all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to answer those questions.

The interactive map below provides specific information about the LWA program in each state, including:

  • Whether each state is paying out an extra $400, $300 or zero dollars each week.
  • An estimated start date of enhanced payments, if available.
  • Each state’s average weekly unemployment benefit — with and without the additional LWA enhancement.

Not every state has released an estimated payment date, and South Dakota decided not to use federal funds to boost weekly payments at all. It’s the only state to do so.

The Lost Wages Assistance program that has taken shape bears little resemblance to the program as it was announced on Aug. 8. But if you’re eligible, hang tight. Help is on the way —  it’s just likely to be in the form of a small cash windfall rather than weekly payments.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.