How It Works: Paying the Unemployed Through President Trump’s Executive Order

August 14, 2020 — Blog    — Coronavirus Bulletin   

On Thursday, August 13, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued some more detailed guidance for President Trump’s August 8 Executive Order taking action to provide resources to those whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The President used his authority through FEMA to fill the void left by Democrats to make sure people getting jobless benefits aren’t completely left out to dry while Pelosi and Schumer play partisan politics.

FEMA is assisting in providing benefits from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to empower States to deliver continued financial relief to Americans who are suffering from unemployment due to COVID-19.

Here’s how it works: 

STATES MUST APPLY TO THE LOST WAGES ASSISTANCE PROGRAM BY SEPT. 10:

  • The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program application is now live on grants.gov and states can apply until Sept. 10th.

STATE UI AGENCIES WILL DISTRIBUTE BENEFITS

  • The program is being run by FEMA in collaboration with DOL, with actual benefits going out through the state UI agencies.

THE EXTRA BENEFITS ARE RETROACTIVE TO AUGUST 1

TWO OPTIONS: $300 WITHOUT ADDITIONAL STATE FUNDS OR $400 WITH STATE FUNDS

Option 1: $300: States have the option of offering UI claimants an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits without spending any additional state dollars.

    • FEMA has said they will match funding by considering the aggregate amount of existing state funding used to pay regular state unemployment benefits.

Option 2: States can offer claimants $400 by adding $100 in benefits through their own separate state funds or Coronavirus Relief Funds.

ALL CLAIMANTS WILL REMAIN ELIGIBLE WITH EITHER OPTION, SO LONG AS THEY MEET EXISTING REQUIREMENTS

  • All claimants under both regular state UI and the expanded CARES Act programs, such as those covering self-employed and gig workers, will be eligible for the extra benefit as long as they are receiving at least $100 a week as their normal benefit.
  • Claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed due to COVID.
  • States may use up to 5% for administration and for systems changes, also subject to match.

DETAILS ON HOW LONG THE FUNDING LASTS 

  • Funding will continue until the earlier of:

1) FEMA has expended $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF),

2) The DRF balance reaches $25 billion,

3) Enactment of legislation providing supplemental Federal unemployment compensation, or similar compensation, for unemployed individuals due to COVID-19, or

4) December 27, 2020.

  • FEMA expects this additional $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to last about 5-6 weeks, depending on how many states participate.
  • To put this in perspective, in just the month of July, the extra $600/week cost $80 billion and has cost nearly $254 billion since it started in April. More than 30 million people are currently claiming UI benefits.

Resources:

DOL Guidance – Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 27-20 

DOL Press Release –Announces Guidance For The Lost Wages Assistance Program To Provide Needed Relief To Americans

FEMA Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance Fact Sheet

FEMA Supplemental Payments for Lost Wages Point-of-Contact: FEMA-IHPHelpdesk@fema.dhs.gov

Want to read more on the fight against Coronavirus? Read our Coronavirus Bulletin here which contains our extensive FAQ about recent federal actions.

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SUBCOMMITTEE: Worker and Family Support