US EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

$400 employment benefit: how long will it last?

The new $400 unemployment would be paid retroactively for the week ending August 1, 2020. But how long will it last?

$400 employment benefit: how long will it last?
ROBYN BECK AFP

With Congressional lawmakers failing to reach an agreement on a new economic stimulus package last Friday, US President Donald Trump opted to move things forward by passing a series of executive orders aimed at supporting Americans struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of those executive orders signed by Trump last Saturday at his New Jersey golf resort extended the $600 unemployment benefit that was approved under CARES Act in March but expired on July 25. However, the extended benefit has been set at $400, with the federal government covering $300 of that figure and the states expected to cover the remaining $100. It remains to be seen if and what states will be willing to pay this $100 share.

Who is entitled to the $400 unemployment benefit?

Unlike the previous $600 benefit boost, the new $400 benefit will only go to individuals receiving $100 or more per week in state unemployment aid. And this enhanced benefit will be paid on top of a person’s state benefits, as was the case with the $600 benefit.

So a person receiving the average $378 a week in state unemployment benefits would receive $378 + the $400 benefit boost, giving them a total of $778 per week. Although, that is if there state is willing to pay the $100 contribution – if not, they would receive $100 less, working out at $678.

When will the $400 weekly benefit kick in?

The new $400 will be paid retroactively for the week ending August 1, 2020. However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNN that it may take a couple of weeks for payments to be sent.

As reported by CNBC, “Unemployment experts have already warned that, due to outdated state systems, extension of any kind of aid could take weeks to implement.”

US President Donald Trump (EFE/EPA/Stefani Reynolds / POOL)

How long will the new $400 benefit last?

The unemployment aid will be covered by the Department of Homeland Security’s $44 billion disaster relief fund.

As CNBC reports, according to the order, the federal aid will run until December 6, until the $44 billion fund runs out, or until Congress approves new legislation covering federal unemployment benefits — whichever event occurs first.

Will the $400 unemployment benefit go ahead?

It is still unknown if Trump’s executives order will be executed and the payments sent out. With Congress in control of federal spending, it is likely Trump’s orders will be challenged in court. The executive orders would also become null and void if Congress does eventually pass a coronavirus stimulus bill, which could happen this week and which would likely include provisions for the additional federal unemployment benefit as well as a second round of stimulus checks.

But Democrats and Republicans will first have to iron out their differences: Democrats want to extend the $600 benefit until January 2021 while many Republicans want to reduce that figure to $400 and allow the benefit to be paid until September.