UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Federal unemployment benefits end: what financial aid is available in each state?

Federal jobless aid programs expire Labor Day across the US removing a line of support for struggling families. Here are some programs families can access.

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Federal unemployment benefits end: what financial aid is available in each state?
NICK OXFORD REUTERS

Labor Day will see the federal pandemic unemployment programs expire cutting off income support for millions of Americans who have yet to reenter the workforce. Many of these workers won’t be able to reincorporate into the labor market immediately even though there are a record number of vacant jobs employers are looking to fill.

Although the federal unemployment programs are ending, there are other programs that have been around for decades as well as ones that were set up during the pandemic by the federal government and at the state level that households can access to alleviate some of the financial difficulties they will face in the coming days and weeks. Here’s a look at some of them...

What financial aid is available in each state?

Although the federal government provides the funding for programs approved by Congress, the states and tribes are in charge of managing the funds and programs. Unemployment insurance agencies across the US are working with the various agencies that are responsible for the programs. So the best place to start to see what is available in your state is to check the webpage of your state’s unemployment insurance agency, you can find a list for all the states here. You may also want to check in with local charities and nonprofits in your area.

SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, better known as food stamps, saw an historic increase last month, the first one in nearly a half century. SNAP eligibility depends on household income. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the program, but the actual distribution is done at the state level, and those entities approve SNAP applications.

Rental assistance

The rollout of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program approved in December has been slow going depending on the state you live in. There is a large portion of the $46.5 billion program approved in the December 2020 covid-19 relief bill still available in many states. These funds can help tenants that have encountered financial hardship during the pandemic get help paying bills and rent. The Treasury Department recently relaxed the requirements states use for apllicants to show financial hardship to speed up delivery of the funds.

Health insurance

Some states expanded their Medicaid programs to cover all residents who have incomes below a certain level. There are no open enrollment periods so you can apply for Medicaid any time of the year. You should apply even if your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, you may qualify for your state program. This could especially be the case if you have children, are pregnant or have a disability. You may be able to access Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which like Medicaid, provides free or low-cost health coverage.