LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – More than a month after President Trump announced he would redirect federal disaster funds to boost unemployment benefits, neither Kentuckians nor Hoosiers have begun receiving the extra payments of $300 or $400 per week.
That should change soon.
Kentuckians "should begin to receive payments within the next few days with payment for the first week going out today (Friday, Sept. 11)," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release Friday.
Indiana will make the extra payments in a single lump-sum the week of Sept. 21, said Scott Olson, spokesman for the state Department of Workforce Development.
Indiana, like most of the 49 states participating in the program, plans to provide $300 per week in extra benefits. In Kentucky, Beshear decided to use the state’s share of federal CARES Act dollars to boost the payments to $400 per week.
The program is retroactive, paying unemployment claimants for up to 6 weeks, starting with the week ended Aug. 1.
Indiana's plan is to make single payments of up to $1,800, representing up to six weeks of benefits from the weeks ended Aug. 1 through Sept. 5.
Kentucky is taking a different approach. The state is providing the $400 payments in weekly installments for the first three weeks.
Kentucky officials haven't decided whether to seek federal approval for an additional three weeks of payments.
"Once the first 3 weeks of the lost wages assistance is paid out, Kentucky will make the decision about whether to apply for an additional 3 weeks," said Marjorie Arnold, chief of staff at the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, in an email Friday.
Thousands of people receiving unemployment insurance in each state have seen a significant drop in income since the across-the-board $600 per week federal supplement expired at the end of July.
The supplements, which Trump authorized via executive action amid a Congressional stalemate on extending the $600-per-week, will more-than double the typical benefits in each state for the few weeks the program lasts.
Indiana’s average weekly benefit for regular, state-funded unemployment was $230 per week in July, according to the most recently available federal data. Kentucky’s was $282.
One caveat is that the Trump program is only available to people who already qualify for at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits. In Kentucky, where the minimum benefit is $39, officials said last month that about 7,000 claimants wouldn't get the extra payments because their weekly benefit is less than $100.
In Indiana, people can receive as little as $50 per week in unemployment benefits.
No new aid coming
A vote in the U.S. Senate on Thursday all-but sealed any hopes for a new round of supplemental federal unemployment benefits or $1,200-per-person stimulus checks before the November presidential election.
Democrats voted to extend the $600-per-week through the end of the year as a part of a $3 trillion aid package the Democrat-led House passed in May. But Republicans balked at the size of the overall package and at the $600 payments, saying they were too generous and discouraged the unemployed from returning to work.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, allowed a slimmed-down Republican-crafted aid package, which included a $300-per-week jobless benefits boost, to come to a procedural vote.
The measure failed to overcome a Democrat filibuster, with Kentucky's other senator, Rand Paul, joining Democrats in opposing the $650 billion package.