The Employment Security Department (ESD) announced it will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) no later than Friday, Aug. 21, 2020.
Upon approval, this will allow ESD to provide an additional $300 per week for three weeks to those who have lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis and are receiving unemployment benefits. Lost Wages Assistance is a temporary emergency measure to provide additional unemployment benefits to eligible claimants. It is not the same as the additional $600 per week that was available under the specific CARES Act provision called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which expired at the end of July. Lost Wages Assistance has different requirements for eligibility and is drawn from a limited pool of money from FEMA to be shared among all states that apply and are approved.
This program was authorized through a Presidential Memorandum signed on Aug. 8, 2020. The funds are retroactive to the unemployment benefit week ending Aug. 1, 2020.
“We will implement this as quickly as possible to distribute the extra payments to Washingtonians once our application is approved,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “Any additional funds to help unemployed workers are welcome – and we estimate that this will provide more than $400 million to families, individuals and our state’s economy. It is important however, to emphasize that this benefit is currently time-limited to those filing claims over a three-week period, between July 26 and Aug. 15, 2020, and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible. We will continue to work with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to pursue any additional funds for Washingtonians that may remain after the initial three-week period of benefits are distributed.”
To qualify for this additional funding, claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. This will require a new step for claimants currently receiving regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Extended Benefits.
If the application is approved, ESD will provide a defined timeline for when the program will launch so that payments can be made to eligible claimants. To learn more, an FAQ on Lost Wages Assistance will be posted at esd.wa.gov/newsroom.