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Stimulus Package: Unemployed Americans May Get Only $5 A week Without A Deal

Updated : October 16th, 2020

Recently, President Donald Trump called off negotiations for the fifth round of the Coronavirus stimulus package. This implies that millions of unemployed Americans looking for a boost in unemployment benefits are out of luck, at least for some time, and may have to depend on regular unemployment benefits from the federal or state government. In some states, it may be as little as $5 a week.

Why Isn’t The Federal Government Giving A New Stimulus Bill?

After weeks of failed discussion on the new stimulus package between the Congress and the White House, President Donald Trump put an end to negotiations until after the election.

On October 6, President Trump tweeted, “I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.” 

Effects Of Delay In The New Stimulus Package 

According to the U.S. Department Of Labor (DOL) reports, there is a surge in new unemployment claims filed across the United States, and more than 26 million Americans are presently collecting unemployment benefits.

A delay in the new stimulus package (or enhanced unemployment benefits), like as mentioned earlier, will force the unemployed Americans to solely rely on their traditional or regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, provided by the federal or state government and settle down with just $5 a week. 

Also, the delay will kill the hopes of those looking for extending enhanced unemployment benefits. The situation would be similar to that when the $600 weekly benefit provided under the CARES Act ended in July and also the expiration of the subsequent $300 to $400 weekly benefit announced through an executive order in August. 

How Much Benefits Do States Provide Under The Regular Unemployment Program?

According to the Department Of Labor’s August reports, the states pay $1,220.36 unemployment benefits per month or $305.09 per week. Note that this is not the precise number but only the average.

It is important to understand that the amount of benefits paid per week varies from one state to another as they have to balance the checkbook. Below, let’s see which states pay more weekly benefits and which pay less.

States That Pay the Highest Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefits

According to the reports of the Labor Department, the following states pay the highest unemployment benefits. 

  • Massachusetts pays up to $1,234 a week
  • Minnesota pays up to $740 a week
  • Washington pays up to $790 a week

Note – The higher weekly payments result from having dependents.

Most states pay a maximum of $400 or more weekly benefits. The maximum unemployment benefit across the U.S. is about $2,104 per month or $526 weekly on average.

States That Pay the Lowest Weekly Unemployment Insurance Benefits

The following states pay the lowest minimum unemployment benefits. 

  • Hawaii pays as low as $5 a week
  • North Carolina pays as little as $15 a week
  • Louisiana as low as $10 a week

Many states pay benefits less than $100 (minimum) per week. The average minimum benefit across the U.S. is $244 per month or $61 weekly.

Are States Paying Benefits Equal To the Federal Minimum Wage?

It is estimated that most states pay less unemployment benefits a week than one could earn by working for approximately 40 hours at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “A parent working full time while earning the minimum wage today earns too little to bring his family, even if it is just a family of two above the federal poverty line.”

Standalone Bill: An Alternative Relief Measure

Even though President Donald Trump called off negotiations for a comprehensive stimulus deal, he has indicated that he is willing to send another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and approving funding for airlines and small businesses. 

$1,200 Stimulus Checks 

President Donald Trump announced he would sign a bill authorizing another $1,200 stimulus check at the earliest. The checks are believed to help thousands of unemployed Americans, however, a shift in eligibility criteria would impact the individual’s final payment. 

The second stimulus check is expected to give $1,200 to the eligible adults, and qualifying child dependents are expected to get $1,000. Older adults, including retirees over age 65 are also likely to be eligible for a second stimulus check. Many factors would contribute to the chances of receiving the second check for retired and older adults. Some of the factors include the AGI, tax filings, pension, whether the IRS considers them a dependent person, and the SSDI program (only if they are a part of it). 

Airline Assistance

The airlines are one of the sectors worst hit by the Coronavirus-induced economic shutdown. Ever since the pandemic began, the sector has furloughed thousands of employees and is expecting assistance to survive through the crisis. Having understood the situation, the negotiators have tagged airline assistance for standalone legislation. 

On October 8, Pelosi stated, “Let me just be really clear. I have been very open to having a standalone bill for the airlines.” 

Earlier, the House had passed a $28.8 billion airline support bill that acted as the starting point for legislation. 

Paycheck Protection Program

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was a part of the CARES Act announced in March 2020. PPP aimed at providing forgivable loans guaranteed by the federal to the small businesses to cover their payroll and other costs. President Trump stated that he would “sign now” a bill that authorizes extra funding to protect small-business payrolls.

Closing Thoughts 

The $1,200 stimulus check is intended to help unemployed Americans to get through pandemic-related expenses and boost the U.S. economy. However, it is still unclear whether the qualified can expect to receive the checks any time soon. 


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  1. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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