State to apply for $400 jobless program, three weeks likely before checks arrive

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky will apply Thursday for the $400 federal unemployment benefits extension, becoming the first state to go after the full amount offered in a order signed by President Donald Trump two weeks ago.

The state is matching $100 of the $300 supplied by the federal government in what is known as the FEMA Lost Wages Assistance program.

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Gov. Andy Beshear announced the application Wednesday.

“This program will allow all Kentuckians receiving unemployment benefits for the weeks of July 26-Aug. 15 to receive an additional payment of $400 if they are unemployed or partially unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Beshear said. “The $400 will apply to all programs: traditional UI, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and the extended benefits programs.”

He said only seven states – Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah – had been approved for the program and all have chosen to fund the program solely with federal dollars, meaning recipients will receive $300.

“We have decided to provide an extra $100 using CARES Act money. Kentucky’s portion will be approximately $8 million per week, for a total of $24 million over the three-week initial grant period,” Beshear said. “We believe this will make us the first state to apply that plans to fund the full $400 promised in the President’s memorandum.”

He cautioned that while FEMA should approve the application in 48-72 hours, reconfiguring the state computer systems to pay the added $400 is likely to take about two weeks.

“If it had been the same rules as the $600, we could have just gone right along. But it’s not,” he said, referring to different eligibility rules.

Therefore, benefits recipients should not expect the payments until sometime in early September.

West Virginia and North Carolina also are considering applying for the $400 program.

Beshear said once the new assistance is up and running, the state will review its status ad the status of the federal program to decide the next steps.

“We’ve got to see how much money the feds put i. Initially we were worried about there only being five weeks. Under the best worlds, Congress would come back and approve the $600 again with the same rules or at least $400…but we’ll see. We want to help our families,” he said.

“We fully intend to apply for more.”