The FEMA funding that was earmarked to pay expanded $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits — created last month by an executive order by President Donald Trump — is running out of money, according to FEMA.
The benefits are expected to last for only six weeks, a FEMA spokesperson said.
“Based on state and DoL projections and current state spending rates, FEMA will make grant awards to enable requesting states, territories and the District of Columbia to make $300 Lost Wage Assistance supplemental wage payments to eligible claimants for a full six weeks,” FEMA told NJ Advance Media. “States should plan to make payments to eligible claimants for no more than six weeks from the week ending August, 1, 2020.”
That adds up to $1,800 in benefits per person.
The New Jersey Labor Department didn’t immediately respond to requests for more information.
All states are expected to get the same number of weeks of benefits, officials said previously. That’s why states, including New Jersey, were instructed to first apply for only three weeks of benefits starting with the week ending Aug. 1, and subsequently, to apply for one week at a time until the fund ran out of money.
New Jersey was approved to participate in the program last week and it will get payments retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1 through the week ending Sept. 5, as long as the state is approved for each additional weekly request.
But workers in the state probably won’t see the money until October, when it will be distributed as a lump sum, the state said previously.
Not everyone will qualify for the benefit. Those receiving weekly benefits of less than $100 and those whose unemployment does not relate to COVID-19 won’t be eligible, the Labor Department said.
FEMA said to date, $30 billion has been distributed to the 48 states, Guam and the District of Columbia that were approved for the program.
“No new/initial applications will be accepted after 11:59pm EDT on September 10, however states/territories may continue to submit requests for additional weeks, up to week 6, after September 10,” FEMA said.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the White House is considering another executive action to extend benefits further, but it’s unclear where the money would come from. President Trump last week suggested it could come from unspent funds approved for business aid as part of the CARES Act, but it’s uncertain whether that money can be shifted for unemployment payments without approval from Congress.
At the same time, the Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on Thursday to clear the way for a full vote on a new GOP coronavirus stimulus plan that would fund an additional $300 weekly unemployment benefit, but the legislation isn’t expected to pass.
Karin Price Mueller may be reached at [email protected].