On August 8, 2020, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to authorize an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits for eligible individuals. This program is called Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) and is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The LWA program was created in response to the expiration of the $600 per week increase in unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act. That program expired on July 31, 2020.
The funding for the LWA program is authorized through December 27, 2020, but funding constraints means it is possible (if not likely) this additional payment will stop sooner. If FEMA spends $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund on payments or if Congress passes legislation for supplemental federal unemployment benefits, the LWA payments would cease at that time.
Each state must apply for LWA funds and be approved by FEMA. You can check if your state has been approved by FEMA here (note the application deadline was September 10, 2020). Once approved, each state determines their plan to send out payments.
In general, you must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Eligible for unemployment as of August 1, 2020 with a weekly benefit of at least $100
- Unemployment or reduction in hours caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
Applying for Benefits
Each state will administer the LWA program, so the rules may vary by state. Some states will require no additional action to receive the additional funds, but some may require additional action. You should check with your state unemployment office to see what steps are needed where you live. Timing of when payments will start will also vary by state.