If you have qualified for unemployment benefits on August 1, 2020, and received a weekly payout of a minimum $100, you will soon be getting an additional $300 / week if you haven’t received it already. The stipend of $300 was approved by President Trump in a Presidential Memorandum on August 8, 2020, officially known as LWA. This program is operated by FEMA.

The memorandum dated Aug. 8 came in reference to the expiration of CARES Act’s $600 / week unemployment benefit on 31st of July, 2020. In the initial phase, the memorandum requested an additional $100 from states, bringing the gross weekly payout to $400. However, the states argued that their exhausted finances prevented them from making the additional payout, so the Trump administration stated that the initial $100 in regular state insurance should be considered the state’s portion.

Important Takeaways

  • LWA was established to provide unemployed and underemployed employees with an additional $300 – $400 in pandemic-related aid.
  • The US territories and states were required to submit applications by September 10, 2020, to be considered for funding.
  • To qualify, you should have been unemployed as of August 1, 2020.
  • Finances were approved through 27th of December, 2020, but were not intended to last past Sept. 2020. It concluded on September 5.

Funding Sources

As per the presidential memo dated Aug. 8 and corresponding instructions of the Department of Labor, the LWA initiative was funded by up to 44 billion dollars from DRF. This figure is also constrained by a requirement that the Disaster Relief Fund must not collapse below 25 billion dollars. This grant would include 75 percent of supplementary funds ($300 a week/claimant). State governments would contribute the remaining 25 percent ($100), either as a separate expenditure or as a part of an individual’s regular stipend for unemployment.

Territories and States Must Submit Applications

To qualify for the funds of LWA, the state or territories had to submit an application. State and territorial governments had until the 10th of September, 2020, to send their applications.

On its LWA Approved States website, FEMA keeps an up-to-date list of authorized territories and states. To see when your state was accepted and how much additional money you can receive (300 dollars for the majority of users, 400 dollars for a limited number of claimants), click on the link for your state.

If a territory or state has been approved, it is up to the state to devise a method for disbursing funds to its residents. Louisiana, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Montana have reportedly also made payments. However, others are currently in the process of developing a payment scheme.

How to Apply and Qualify?

Not all unemployed individuals in all approved states and territories can get funds from LWA. To obtain the additional $300:

  • You should have been unemployed on Aug. 1, 2020.
  • At least $100 should be your unemployment benefit on a regular weekly basis.
  • You had lost your job or had your hours cut as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from the above specified eligibility requirements, it is up to each territory or state to determine if any additional documentation is required to collect the money. Certain jurisdictions, such as Rhode Island and Colorado, do not compel claimants to take any action. However, for the majority, it is uncertain what you will or not be required to do. The best course of action is to contact the office for state unemployment.

How Long Will the Payments Last?

Regardless of when you collect your first paycheck, the payment is to be determined by your status of employment as of 1st of August, 2020. Although Lost Wages Assistance provides for payments to begin on August 1 and continue until 27th of December, 2020. It was planned to terminate the program earlier if:

  • 44 billion dollars from the DRF account is spent by FEMA.
  • The DRF account balance hits $25 billion; or
  • COVID-19–related law is passed that offers unemployed or underemployed persons with supplemental state unemployment benefits or equivalent compensation.

The initial funding period was three weeks (from August 1 to August 22). FEMA reports that following the initial three-week commitment, further weekly disbursements would be made to ensure funding is available. This is comparable to the system utilized by states/territories to use funds from the FPUC program.

Due to funding constraints, the Lost Wages program came to an end on Sept. 5, 2020. According to a report by CNBC, FEMA has stated that every state or district that applies for Lost Wages funds by Sept. 10, 2020, would gain six weeks of funding for the weeks ending Aug. 1 to Sept. 5.

Weekly Payments: One or Two?

It depends upon territories and states to determine how they would make payments to individuals. You can receive one weekly payment consisting of both daily and LWA funds, or you may receive two weekly payments. States must budget for LWA funds separately from daily unemployment benefits but are not required to make payments separately.