U.S. Department of Labor Announces Guidance for the Lost Wages Assistance Program to Provide Needed Relief to Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the release of guidance to help states implement the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. LWA is authorized by Presidential Memorandum, and provides claimants in most Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs up to $400 per week additional benefits, starting with weeks of unemployment ending on or after Aug. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 27, 2020 at the latest. LWA will be administered by states and territories through a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with support from the Labor Department.
To qualify for LWA benefits, individuals must provide self-certification they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and the state must confirm that the individual is receiving at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits.
LWA is funded by FEMA through a joint federal-state agreement and provides the states with two benefit options. For the $400 per week benefit, states must contribute 25 percent ($100) and the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost ($300). States are encouraged to satisfy the 25 percent state match requirement and provide the additional $100 in benefits either through allocations of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), provided under Title V of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136) or other state funding. For the $300 per week benefit, FEMA will fund the entire amount and states may choose to simply satisfy the 25 percent state match, without allocating additional state funds, with the state funding used to pay regular state UI unemployment benefits.
“With the expiration of FPUC, LWA will provide important assistance to workers who need it,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “This program is another tangible example of this Administration’s commitment to helping Americans during these challenging times. The Department and our partners at FEMA will work tirelessly in the coming, days and weeks to ensure LWA’s vital and important benefits are made available to those most in need,” Pallasch added.
The LWA program may end earlier than Dec. 27 if FEMA expends $44 billion prior or the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund decreases to $25 billion; or legislation is enacted that provides, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation for unemployed or underemployed individuals.