$300 weekly unemployment: When do bonus checks start? Here’s what you should know


More unemployment checks are coming. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The IRS began sending another round of stimulus checks Tuesday following the signing of a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package signed by President Donald Trump on Monday. Also included were more weeks of enhanced unemployment with $300 weekly bonus checks and one more month for the eviction moratorium

Congress passed the $2.3 trillion bill that included the relief package last week, but President Trump waited five days before signing the legislation. He was critical of the $600 stimulus check and called for it to be raised to $2,000. The House of Representatives passed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help Act of 2020, which would increase the stimulus checks to $2,000, on Dec. 24. The bill made its way to the Senate Tuesday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it from consideration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the bill to be considered on the Senate floor Wednesday, but it was once again stopped by McConnell, saying the legislation would not have a quick path to passing. On Thursday, Schumer again requested consideration for the bill, but was blocked against by McConnell.

Due to Trump’s delay, unemployed workers will likely not see the $300 bonus checks for at least a week, if not more. The start date for the extension of unemployment benefits had been Dec. 26, which already passed. States are awaiting guidance from the US Department of Labor on how funds will be allocated, but the agency told states Monday that benefit recipients will continue to receive payments according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer. Approximately 12 million people receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and were at risk of going a week or more without a payment due to the delay. 

We’re here to answer as many questions as we can, given the current information available, including if the weekly unemployment bonus would include retroactive payments and who would meet the eligibility requirements. We recently updated this story with new details.

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When will the $300 bonus weekly unemployment checks start up again?

The first date for the bill to go into effect, Dec. 26, has come and gone. The delay could be a week or more depending on when the Department of Labor informs states about how to proceed with the funds and how long it will take the state’s to begin processing payments. Checks are authorized to last until March 14, but there is an overflow period that lasts until April 5 for those who exhausted their state’s benefits before the expiration date. 

Will the $300 bonus checks be retroactive?

While the language of the bill does not specify if the unemployment bonus is retroactive or not, that does not appear to be the case, The Washington Post reported. This means they’re likely won’t be a federally instituted lump sum payment to make up for previous weeks of not receiving a $300 check.

What is Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation?

In the original CARES Act, the bill had unemployed workers either get their benefits from the state through unemployment insurance or through a federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA. Someone who worked as a gig worker, self-employed, freelancer or contractor who doesn’t typically receive unemployment benefits if they’re laid off could receive PUA instead. 

In the language of the bill, however, someone who earned a combination of income from a traditional job and employment as a contractor would either receive the unemployment insurance payment or the PUA, but not a combination of both. 


Tens of millions of Americans face financial catastrophe unless more money is approved.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation, a person who made more money from their self-employment or contracting job — that requires a 1099 form — could receive an extra $100 a week. For example, let’s say you made $50,000 in 2019, which was split with $30,000 coming from a contractor job and $20,000 from a part-time job at a company. If you were laid off, the state unemployment office would calculate whether you would receive benefits for the $30,000 via PUA or $20,000 via unemployment insurance but not a combination of the two. 

While someone who worked a traditional job and makes $50,000 a year in New York would receive $480 a week from unemployment insurance, by having a mix of the two, you would get the greater of the two different amounts which would be the PUA of $288 a week rather than the $280 from unemployment. 

Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation will now give that person an extra $100, but only if the state participates. It may be some time before states will determine whether they will or not after the bill gets passed. 

Who qualifies for the bonus $300 unemployment check? 

If you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’re eligible to apply for unemployment benefits from the state where you live. Once the state approves your claim, you can apply to receive whatever state benefits you’re entitled to. Because states cover 30% to 50% of a person’s wages, there’s no one lump sum you could get nationally. 

When the CARES Act passed in March, it provided unemployed workers with a weekly bonus check of $600 on top of the amount the state was offering, but those payments ended in July. Trump’s executive memo signed on Aug. 8 reinstated a bonus weekly check for a reduced $300 funded by the federal government through FEMA. These were offered for only six weeks to those states who applied, which were all of them except for South Dakota. 


For millions of Americans, time is almost out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Those receiving PUA would also receive the $300 bonus. Under the CARES Act, PUA funding will be available until Dec. 31 but for many, their last payment will be on Dec. 26. 

Would I qualify for federal unemployment insurance?

Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but the general rule is that you should apply if you’ve lost your job or been furloughed through no fault of your own. This would include a job lost directly or indirectly because of the pandemic. 

How would unemployment insurance be calculated?

The state determines how much each applicant receives, usually based on an individual’s gross income. It varies from state to state but is typically between $300 and $600. 

How are individual states handling unemployment benefits?

Most states provide up to 26 weeks of funding, though others, such as Georgia, limited benefits to 12 weeks. On the other hand, Delaware extended benefits for up to 30 weeks. 

The weekly benefit amount depends on an applicant’s gross income when they were employed and ranges between $300 and $600, with some exceptions. Mississippi had paid up to $235, while Massachusetts’ maximum has been $1,220. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation from the CARES Act added an additional 13 weeks funded by the federal government, but another stimulus bill with unemployment insurance would need to pass in order to extend it further. The latest COVID-19 relief package would add another 11 weeks of PEUC. 

Where can I find more details about my state’s unemployment policy?

Each state’s labor office provides information about its particular unemployment benefits.

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