LANSING – The federal government has approved Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration’s application to add a $300 weekly supplement to Michigan unemployment insurance checks.
The extra benefits, announced by President Donald Trump after Congress failed to agree on a new coronavirus stimulus package, is only half as big as the $600 weekly supplement that had been in place earlier, but expired at the end of July.
The new $300 weekly addition, approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be retroactive to Aug. 1.
“This is good news for the thousands of Michiganders who are still without work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a short term band aid that falls short of what’s needed,” Whitmer said in a news release.
“We need the president, (U.S. Senate Leader) Mitch McConnell, and Congress to put partisanship aside and pass a bipartisan recovery package that will help us save lives and get people back on their feet. Michigan families, frontline workers, and small business owners are counting on the federal government to do the right thing and work together on their behalf.”
More: Michigan applies for extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits
More: Weekly unemployment claims drop as Michigan seeks additional $300 per week in benefits
The Unemployment Insurance Agency estimates about 910,000 Michiganders would receive at least $300 per week in supplemental benefits through the program. It
allows for existing Unemployment Trust Fund payments delivered by UIA to count as 25% matching funds required for participation.
It is unclear how long funding for the program will last. It could take three weeks or longer for the funds to be distributed, said Jason Moon, a spokesman for the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Under the program, the state could have increased the weekly supplement to $400, by paying $100 a week in state funds. Officials said they could not do that, citing an ongoing budget crunch.
“This additional $300 a week will provide some much needed support to those who are still struggling to make ends meet during this time of extreme need,” said Steve Gray, director of the UIA. “Our goal now is to work as quickly as possible to implement this new program to get people the benefits they need.”
The additional benefits will be added automatically for all claimants who are eligible to receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments. This includes claimants receiving any type of regular unemployment insurance benefits as well as those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, such as those who are self-employed. Claimants do not have to take any action to receive the benefits boost, the agency said.
Even someone who was unemployed during the first week of August but has since returned to work should not have to take any action, provided they certified that they were unemployed during the first week of August, Moon said.
On Aug. 8, Trump made available up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to finance
the unemployment insurance payments, without going through Congress.
Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah were previously approved for assistance, FEMA said in a news release.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.
Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.