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Federal - COVID-19 and Lost Wages Assistance Program

On August 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released guidance for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program that is administered by states through a grant agreement with FEMA. FEMA does not pay benefits directly to individuals, instead the states distribute the funds through their UI system as a supplemental payment.

The LWA provides eligible claimants up to $400 per week of additional benefits beginning with weeks of unemployment ending on or after August 1, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending no later than December 27, 2020. An eligible claimant is an individual:

  • Who provides self-certification that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 disruptions; and
  • The state confirmed as receiving at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits through regular unemployment compensation or any of the following:
    • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE);
    • Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX);
    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC);
    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA);
    • Extended Benefits (EB);
    • Short-Time Compensation (STC);
    • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA); and
    • Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program.

Upon a grant award by FEMA, states may provide eligible claimants $400 per week, with a $300 federal contribution. LWA is funded using a 75 percent federal cost share and 25 percent state match. If states provide the maximum benefit to their claimants, they may pay an additional $100 per claimant per week using amounts allocated to them out of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) or other state funding to cover the 25 percent state match. States may meet the $100 per claimant per week state match with the payments they make for regular state UI benefits to claimants that also meet the requirement to be unemployed or partially unemployed as a result of COVID-19 if they choose to do so. This includes states in borrowing status under the Social Security Act. In this case, eligible claimants will only receive an LWA payment of $300 in addition to their weekly benefit amount.

If a state chooses to use another state funding source (CRF or general revenue) besides those currently supporting the state UI program to cover the 25 percent state match, eligible claimants will receive a total LWA payment of $400 in addition to their weekly benefit amount ($300 from the federal cost share and $100 from the state match).

LWA is not payable to those collecting Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) or receiving extended state benefits. The LWA program may terminate before December 27, 2020, if:

  • FEMA expends the $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) account designated for the LWA program;
  • The total balance of the DRF account decreases to $25 billion; or
  • Legislation is enacted that provides supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation for unemployed or underemployed individuals due to the COVID-19 outbreak.