FEMA grant offering $300 weekly payout for lost wages begins in some states

August 17, 2020

Land Line Staff

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The first $300 payments from a $44 billion grant aimed at providing direct assistance to workers who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic will begin this week.

Seven states – Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah – have set up programs to administer payments from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to workers who have been economically affected by the coronavirus.

On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump authorized FEMA to spend up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund for lost wage payments. The president has authorized the FEMA administrator to provide grants to the states to make supplemental lost wages payments to those receiving unemployment insurance compensation.

States may provide claimants a lost wages supplement of up to $400, composed of a $300 federal contribution from the Disaster Relief Fund and an additional amount up to $100 from state funds. The total lost wages supplemental payment may not exceed $400.

States are also responsible for recovering improper lost wages payment benefits from claimants.

FEMA will not administer benefits directly to claimants. Instead the agency will provide funds in the form of grants to participating states, territories, and the District of Columbia to administer delivery of lost wages assistance. The governments will also receive up to 5% of the total grant award to cover administrative costs.

The authorization for FEMA to use the Disaster Relief Fund to supplement the payment of lost wages as a result of COVID-19 is in addition to the $8.8 billion FEMA has already obligated to date in the fight against COVID-19.

Eligibility for lost wages payments

A state may provide supplemental lost wages payments to individuals who were unemployed on the week ending Aug. 1, and are currently eligible for at least $100 per week in unemployment insurance compensation from any of the following:

  • Unemployment compensation, including regular state unemployment compensation, unemployment compensation for federal employees, and unemployment compensation for ex-service members.
  • Pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.
  • Pandemic unemployment assistance.
  • Extended benefits.
  • Short-time compensation.
  • Trade readjustment allowance.
  • Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance program.

Claimants will be required to self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initial unemployment insurance claims process and or required weekly recertifications.

The grants will last no longer than until Sunday, Dec. 27. Payments could terminate sooner if FEMA spends $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund; that fund’s total balance falls to $25 billion; or the enactment of legislation providing federal unemployment compensation for unemployed or partially employed workers due to COVID-19.

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