Minnesota on Friday applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program.
If approved, LWA will provide a temporary additional weekly $300 benefit to eligible Minnesotans who are unemployed because of COVID-19 and receiving at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits.
“When the additional federal $600 weekly benefit ended in late July, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who remain out of work were affected,” Gov Tim Walz said in a statement. “Without additional federal benefits, families are struggling to pay for basic necessities. We must use every resource at our disposal to help Minnesotans through this pandemic.”
Congress failed to reach a deal to extend the $600 per week pandemic aid after its July 31 expiration, but President Donald Trump signed an executive order this month extending a form of the program funded from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).
Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove said the state has paid out $7 billion in benefits.
“DEED has already completed all the necessary work to ensure we can make payments as soon as we get funding transferred from the Federal Government,” Grove said. “We know Minnesotans are anxious to receive these supplemental payments, and we are doing all we can to make that happen as quickly as possible.”
Once FEMA approves the state’s application, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will transfer funding to Minnesota. The Unemployment Insurance program will begin to pay benefits upon funding receipt.
LWA benefits are retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1.
The date of initial LWA benefit payments is dependent on the transfer of funds from the U.S. Treasury.
If the state receives approval quickly, it could start issuing the first payments to applicants at the end of the week of Aug. 30 or beginning the week of Sept. 6.
Those currently receiving unemployment benefits just need to complete their weekly benefits request to get the $300 boost.
The program will end by Dec. 27, but could end earlier if FEMA spends the $44 billion in the DRF account, that DRF account balance drops to $25 billion, or Congress extends unemployment benefits.
DEED anticipates the program will last between five to eight weeks.
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This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.