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Clarification issued on new unemployment bonus

by jmaloni
Fri, Aug 21st 2020 06:15 pm

It appears New Yorkers will be able to receive an additional $300 in unemployment benefits.

A FEMA FAQ explained: “Per the Presidential Memorandum that authorizes this assistance, the federal share for supplemental lost wages payments is fixed at $300.The state/territory may choose to provide all claimants either a $300 or a $400 supplemental payment. These amounts cannot be adjusted. The supplemental payment is not unemployment insurance; it is a supplemental payment on top of the applicable unemployment insurance benefit paid by the state/territory.”

With Congress unable to pass a relief package, President Donald Trump, on Aug. 8, issued an executive order authorizing a $400 payment per week, which would be $300 in federal contribution and $100 from each state. Money would go to eligible claimants from the week of unemployment ending Aug. 1, 2020.

States, including New York, had balked at providing the additional $100 per person, citing economic shortfalls stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

The FEMA FAQ continued:

Q: Will FEMA fund 75% of the grant amount up front or fund 100% of the grant amount and send a bill for collection for the 25% state/territory cost share?

A: There are two supplemental payment options for the state/territory to demonstrate the cost share:

▪Option 1: the individual receives $400 – $300 federal contribution (75% cost share) and $100 from state/territory funds, including coronavirus relief funds (25% cost share).

▪Option 2: the individual receives $300 – $300 is the federal contribution and to satisfy its cost share the state/territory will be credited for underlying regular unemployment insurance paid from state/territory funds for the population that receives the $300 supplemental payment.

Late Friday afternoon, New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica issued a statement that read, "Now that the federal government has blinked and will no longer make states provide funding they do not have, New York State will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program. As Gov. Cuomo has said, politics does not impact policy – especially during a pandemic – and if New Yorkers are in need, this administration will do everything we can to support them. But make no mistake, this does not absolve Washington from doing its job, and they must pass a comprehensive aid package that provides a stable extension of unemployment benefits, repeals the SALT cap and supports local and state governments. Anything else would simply be unacceptable."

The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued additional guidance to address questions raised by states about the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program authorized by the presidential memorandum, authorizing the other needs assistance program for major disaster declarations related to coronavirus disease 2019, issued on Aug. 8.

LWA is administered by states and territories through a grant agreement with FEMA. FEMA does not administer these payments directly to individuals; the states and territories will distribute the funds through their unemployment insurance systems, as a supplemental payment. This guidance responds to questions received from states about the LWA program and the answers were developed in coordination with FEMA.

“In addition to multiple joint calls (Department of Labor) and FEMA have hosted with state UI directors and state administrators, this guidance will continue to clarify the process for states to take advantage of the Lost Wages Assistance benefit,” DOL Assistant Secretary John Pallasch said.

FEMA has also produced a lost wages supplemental payment assistance fact sheet and frequently asked questions page to provide answers to questions that states may have. States should direct inquiries regarding LWA to [email protected]. States may direct inquiries regarding the intersection of LWA with unemployment benefit programs to [email protected].

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