$400 weekly unemployment bonus is now $300. What you should know – CNET

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The $400 a week is now $300. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

As the Senate continues debating the contents of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan such as the third stimulus check and Child Tax Credit, the unemployment benefits provision received some adjustment. Bonus checks will be extended to October but would be $300 instead of $400. 

Senate Democrats made the changes to the benefits laid out in the House bill Friday. If the legislation passed, unemployed workers will receive a $300 weekly bonus check until Oct. 4 instead of the end of August according to The Hill. One reason for this change comes from the Senate not being in session at the end of August, which could cause issues if the bonus checks need to be extended. 

Along with the longer payments, Senate Democrats also added a provision to make the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits tax exempt. Following news of the change, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that President Joe Biden supports the extension: “The President believes it is critical to extend expanded unemployment benefits through the end of September to help Americans who are struggling.”

Here’s everything you need to know about how the new package will help people who are unemployed. 

How will the next relief bill help unemployed workers?

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package was to extend enhanced unemployment benefits until the end of August and increase the weekly federal bonus to $400 instead of the current $300. However, changes made Friday by Senate Democrats would change the $400 back to $300 and extend the checks until Oct. 4. This is still down from the $600 per week extended in the CARES Act, on top of unemployment checks issued by the state.

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Will the $300 extra unemployment bonus be retroactive? 

So far, there’s no indication the unemployment payments will be retroactive. That could change once a bill makes its way through Congress, or it could be determined by the states. 

How long will the extra $300 checks be extended for unemployed Americans?

Biden’s initial plan called for the extended benefits to last until the end of September, with triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out of work, and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions. The bill that passed the House called for bonus checks to last until the end of August, but that changed in the Senate Friday. Now payments will last until Oct. 4.

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For millions of out-of-work Americans, unemployment insurance is a lifeline.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What about the last $300 unemployment bonus checks? How many are left? 

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed in December added 11 additional weeks of enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the $300 weekly checks, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers and an extension to benefits provided by the state. The official expiration date for these benefits is March 14 — less than two weeks away — but there’s a phase-out period until April 5, since some recipients have yet to receive any payments from their states’ unemployment offices.

What will happen in October? 

Since being elected, Biden has said multiple times that there will be more relief coming, but he has yet to indicate when that will happen. If the $1.9 COVID relief bill passes, there will likely not be any talk of extending benefits until the expiration date nears. 


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