SUBSCRIBE NOW

New York applied for more $300 a week unemployment benefits. What the federal government said

Joseph Spector
New York State Team

ALBANY - New York provided $3.9 billion worth of $300 checks to 2.5 million New Yorkers last month as part of a federal unemployment assistance program.

Probably don't expect another round.

The state Labor Department said it applied for more $300 a week payments to unemployed New Yorkers after the state doled out six weeks worth for those out of work from Aug. 2 through Sept. 6 under the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program.

But so far, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has only approved six weeks of payment for states as part of $44 billion in federal unemployment aid made available unilaterally Aug. 8 by President Donald Trump amid gridlock over a new stimulus package in Washington.

Specifically, New York applied for a seventh week, but to no avail, the Labor Department said.

"FEMA has denied New York's request for additional weeks of LWA funding beyond the six weeks that have already been distributed — highlighting one of the many shortcomings of this slapdash Federal program," Peter Brancato, a spokesman for the state Labor Department, said in a statement.

He knocked Senate Republicans and Trump for not reaching a new agreement on an additional stimulus package. While Senate Republicans and House Democrats have passed their own plans, the sides have been unable to reach a compromise with less than two weeks before Election Day.

"Across New York and around the country, families are still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the continued failure by the Trump Administration and Senate Republicans to negotiate a comprehensive relief bill is as illogical as it is harmful," Brancato said.

What unemployment aid was available in NY?

Application for unemployment benefits

New York, like most states, was initially granted the $300 a week payments for three weeks for the weeks ending Aug. 2, Aug. 9 and Aug. 16.

Then it was approved for another three weeks: the weeks ending Aug. 23, Aug. 30 and Sept. 6.

The $300 a week was for those out of work due the COVID-19 pandemic and in addition to the up to $504 a week that the state itself provides in unemployment benefits.

The $300 replaced $600 a week payments that Congress approved in the spring to help those out of work due to the pandemic. But that money ran out at the end of July, and Congress has yet to approve another round.

"Since March, we have provided over $52 billion in benefits to support unemployed New Yorkers, including $3.9 billion in Lost Wages Assistance funding, with payments beginning over a month ago," Brancato said. 

The Lost Wages funding in New York totaled 13 million payments over the six weeks, the state Labor Department said.

Overall, New York has paid nearly $45 billion in unemployment benefits during the pandemic, which equates to 21 typical years’ worth of benefits paid in just seven months.

What happens next?

As for the federal $300 payments, many states are still paying out the six weeks' worth, and some states have had complications.

In New Jersey, for example, the state said Wednesday it had to slow payments because of a deluge of claims.

FEMA is distributing unused money from disaster relief funds, and it if drops below $25 billion, the federal agency said it would end the program.

The assistance could run through December, according to Trump's order, but FEMA has warned it might not last that long.

In a statement Thursday, FEMA said it still processing claims from states for the six weeks of payments.

"Regardless of where the states and territories are in their process to receive and distribute the FEMA funding, FEMA will fund six weeks in $300 supplemental unemployment benefits to every state and territory that has applied for this assistance by September 10," the agency said.

More:$300 a week NY unemployment benefits approved for another three weeks. Here are the details

More:Will you get a $300 a week unemployment check? What you need to know

Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany

Support local journalism

We cover the stories from the New York State Capitol and across New York that matter most to you and your family. Please consider supporting our efforts with a subscription to the New York publication nearest you.