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Who’ll get an extra $300 pandemic unemployment, when and for how long

New York’s COVID unemployed with get three $300 checks beginning next week.

Whether any further Lost Wages Assistance will be paid out is up to FEMA, according to the Department of Labor.

And any long-term COVID-related unemployment payment plan or stimulus check is still up in the air.

“I cannot comment on any future payments at this time,” said a spokesman for the New York Department of Labor. “All I can say is, New York State has been approved for three weeks of Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) and is waiting for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approval for the final three weeks of LWA.”

The news comes as Democrats and Republicans continue to argue over the details of any future stimulus plan that would including putting money in the pockets of the nation’s COVID-unemployed.

House Democrats passed a $3 trillion stimulus proposal called the HEROES Act in May, but the White House and Senate Republicans have their own HEALS Act.

Despite months of talks, neither bill has progressed and, while the logjam persisted, President Donald Trump signed his own Executive Order last month that directed FEMA to use its leftover COVID-19 relief funds to pay the $300 weekly unemployment bonus to states for six weeks.

FEMA announced that all states would be limited to six weeks of benefits but, so far, New York State has only been approved for three weeks of Lost Wages Assistance.

Without a new stimulus bill that includes extended Lost Wages Assistance, the extra $300 payment will run out when the recipient receives six payments of $300 (if New York gets a second approval from FEMA).

The total cost of the overall stimulus bill is the main stumbling-blocking for Republicans and Democrats.

While all sides appeared to support sending out a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, they can’t agree on additional aid for small businesses or aid to state and local governments, rental and mortgage assistance or food support.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO

Governor Andrew Cuomo is furious. “I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock,” he said.

“This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses … is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.”

Cuomo accused the president of pandemic politics that were squarely directed at Democratic states, and addedm, “If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion.

“In the interim we have to be smart .. we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.“

Up to 2.4 million New Yorkers are eligible for the FEMA payment, according to New York State Department of Labor

During the pandemic emergency, the State has paid $43.7 billion in unemployment benefits to 3.5 million New Yorkers, representing over 20 typical years’ worth of benefits paid in just six months.

“Throughout this crisis, states’ unemployment systems have been pushed to the limit and constantly-changing federal guidance — including this haphazard Presidential executive order — have only delayed our efforts to get benefits to New Yorkers in need. But we have worked day and night to stand up this program, and millions of New Yorkers will see payments next week,” said Commissioner Roberta Reardon.

COMMISSIONER REARDON

“We are emailing all New Yorkers who are receiving benefits to inform them of their status and, if needed, provide information about certifying for the Lost Wages Assistance program. All New Yorkers should keep an eye out for these messages and, if an additional certification is required, respond immediately.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released funding for the first three weeks of LWA benefits to New York State, covering the benefit weeks ending August 2, August 9, and August 16.

Approximately TWO million New Yorkers are pre-qualified and will receive payments starting next week. The remainder — roughly 435,000 New Yorkers — must submit an additional certification to qualify.

Under federal rules, New York State may be eligible for additional weeks of LWA funding.

According to FEMA, funding for the LWA program will continue until any of the following occur:

1. The federal Disaster Relief Fund balance falls below $25 billion
2. The $44 billion set aside for the LWA program is depleted;
3. Congress enacts a replacement unemployment relief program; OR
4. If none of the above scenarios occur before December 27, 2020, funding will terminate on that date.

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