Your $600 a week unemployment benefits will now end sooner than expected.
Here’s what you need to know.
Unemployment benefits expire this month
The $600 a week unemployment benefits were slated to expire on July 31. However, according to USA Today, they will now expire one week early. This means that states could stop paying unemployment benefits as early as July 25 or July 26. The U.S. Labor Department told USA Today:
“The (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) $600 can be paid for weeks ending no later than the week ending prior to Friday, July 31, 2020. For all states except (New York), that is Saturday, July 25th. New York’s end date is Sunday, July 26th.”
Why the mix-up? It all comes down to the details, as USA Today explains. The Cares Act says these supplemental benefits will end “on or before July 31.” However, most states pay unemployment benefits on a weekly or bi-weekly basis ending on a Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, unemployment benefits will end earlier than expected on the last Saturday or Sunday of July.
Will unemployment benefits be extended?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he does not plan to extend these unemployment benefits in the next stimulus bill. Similarly, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow also expects that these unemployment benefits will not be extended. This means that the supplemental unemployment benefits that Congress approved through the Cares Act likely will expire. Only these supplemental benefits will end; traditional unemployment benefits still will be available. The House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, a $3 trillion stimulus package, which would extend the $600 a week unemployment benefits through January 31, 2021. However, absent support from Senate Republicans, the Heroes Act will not become law.
White House wants Americans to go back to work
The White House is focused on boosting jobs numbers and encouraging people to return to work. Kudlow has argued that, given the current amount of unemployment benefits, it’s possible that you can receive more money being unemployed than being employed, which can create a potential disincentive to return to work, which also can create a longer-term unemployment issue. Instead of supplemental weekly unemployment benefits, Senate Republicans and the White House may consider a cash bonus for workers to return to work. A “return to work” bonus would pay someone who is unemployed a financial bonus to get a job or return to their job if they are furloughed. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) proposed a $450 weekly bonus for every individual who returns to work before July 31, 2020. In contrast, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has proposed that Congress extend unemployment benefits based on a state’s unemployment rate.
How much unemployment can I get?
What happens once these $600 a week unemployment benefits disappear? You can still receive traditional unemployment benefits through the state where you last worked. Unemployment benefits are managed at the state level, so each state sets its own eligibility criteria and amount of unemployment benefits. In most states, you are paid weekly and can receive unemployment benefits up to half your wages, subject to a maximum benefit. Most states such as New York, California and Texas offer 26 weeks of unemployment benefits through a state-funded unemployment insurance system. States such as Florida and North Carolina each offer 12 weeks of unemployment benefits. You can still receive up to 39 weeks of unemployment through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. If your state provides less than 39 weeks of unemployment benefits, you can receive the difference through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
Next stimulus could include second stimulus check
All eyes are on the next stimulus bill, which Congress will vote on this month. If these unemployment benefits are not extended, will Americans who are unemployed or furloughed receive any other financial relief? Senate Republicans have said “don’t expect a second stimulus check.” That said, many people have questions about a second stimulus check and whether they are eligible. The next stimulus package may include a second stimulus check, although McConnell opposes a second stimulus check, citing the high cost and his focus on other economic incentives. President Trump said there will be another stimulus package and is open to a second stimulus check, which could help offset the end of these unemployment benefits. However, Trump has not guaranteed there will be second stimulus checks. If there is a second stimulus check, your second stimulus check could look like this.