The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) approved Georgia’s grant application Monday for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program – President Trump’s plan to extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits.
The FEMA grant funding will allow Georgia to provide an additional $300 supplement to eligible individuals receiving benefits from Georgia’s state and federal unemployment insurance programs.
“This news is truly life-changing for hardworking Georgians in every part of our state, and we deeply appreciate the Trump administration’s leadership to help us provide timely unemployment assistance to families weathering the economic impact of this pandemic,” said Governor Kemp. “I also commend Commissioner Butler for his hard work throughout this entire process. In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure economic stability in every region and protect the lives and livelihoods of Georgians.”
On Aug. 8, 2020, President Trump approved up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit is currently time-limited to an initial three-week period and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible. Additional benefits are contingent upon availability of remaining FEMA funds. States will be required to request additional disbursements weekly after the introductory three-week period of benefits are distributed. The period of assistance is Aug. 1, 2020 to Dec. 27, 2020 or at the termination of the program, whichever is sooner. Assistance from FEMA for providing the LWA supplement payment may terminate prior to Dec. 27, 2020 if: FEMA expends the funds appropriated for supplement lost wages assistance; or Congress passes a new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC).
“The Georgia Department of Labor will deliver a system meeting the new FEMA guidelines to process these weekly supplements as quickly as possible,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “We will continue to work with the US Department of Labor, FEMA, and Governor Kemp’s office to provide financial support for Georgians during this pandemic.”
Eligibility for the Lost Wages Assistance Program is based upon an individual’s weekly benefit determination – an amount calculated by a claimant’s reported wages. Individuals must have received a weekly benefit amount determination of at least $100 to be eligible for LWA. He/she must also be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
The Georgia Department of Labor will create a system to distribute this additional payment to those currently receiving state or federal unemployment benefits and will apply the benefit to all eligible weeks beginning with the week ending Aug. 1. Certification requirements for this FEMA-based program are different than the ones from the FPUC Program and will require a new system to administer the payments. The GDOL anticipates programming to begin this week and implementation to be completed within three to four weeks.
Individuals do not need to call or apply separately for this benefit. Information on LWA and other Unemployment and Reemployment programs can be found on the agency’s webpage at www.gdol.ga.gov.