Federal grant to temporarily add $300 a week to unemployment benefits

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Those receiving unemployment benefits due to Covid-19 in Washington state will soon get some extra relief.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on August 24 that it approved Washington for a grant that will provide an extra $300 a week for three weeks to workers who have lost work due to the Covid-19 crisis and are receiving unemployment benefits. The grant is part of the agency’s Lost Wages Assistance program.

On August 8, President Trump made available up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to Covid-19, according to a FEMA news release on the program. Trump acted after Congress could not agree on a coronavirus relief package as other aid was expiring.

The benefit is currently limited to those who filed claims over a three-week period between July 26 and August 15, 2020, according to a press release from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD), which is administering the program. Eligible workers will receive back pay dating to the week ending August 1. Not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible, according to ESD.

Suzi LeVine, ESD commissioner, said her agency estimated this grant would provide more than $400 million to individuals in Washington state.

The extra $300 a week is separate from the extra $600 per week previously available to those receiving unemployment benefits. That additional $600 was part of a federal CARES Act provision called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which expired at the end of July.

FEMA has approved Lost Wages Assistance grants to at least 28 other states so far.

To learn more about FEMA’s lost wages supplemental payment assistance, go to: bit.ly/2FM4poK.

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