Today, Governor Tim Walz announced that the State of Minnesota applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program.
When implemented, LWA will provide a temporary additional $300 a week benefit to Minnesotans receiving unemployment benefits. To be eligible, an applicant must have a weekly unemployment benefit amount of at least $100 and must be unemployed due to COVID-19.
“When the additional federal $600 weekly benefit ended in late July, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who remain out of work were affected,” said Governor Walz. “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.”
“The Lost Wages Assistance program provides much-needed emergency help, but it is not part of a comprehensive package to help workers and businesses struggling as the pandemic continues,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “We hope that our federal partners will be able to come together to provide the well-planned and thorough relief Minnesotans and other Americans need.”
“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,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “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 when the funding is received. LWA benefits are retroactive to the week ending August 1, 2020.
The first three weeks for which the state will make LWA payments to eligible applicants are:
- July 26 – August 1
- August 2 – August 8
- August 9 – August 15
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 August 30 or the beginning of the week of September 6.
Those currently receiving unemployment benefits do not need to reapply or do anything other than complete their weekly benefits request to receive the additional $300 a week. DEED Unemployment Insurance will review all payment requests made for the week of July 26 going forward and automatically pay those applicants who are eligible for LWA.
FEMA is authorized to spend up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for the LWA program. The program will end no later than December 27, 2020. However, the program may end earlier if any of the following occur:
- FEMA expends the $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) account.
- The total balance of the DRF account decreases to $25 billion.
- Legislation is enacted by Congress providing supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation.
DEED anticipates the program will last between five to eight weeks. Applicants can visit https://www.uimn.org/lwa for more information. Minnesota leaders carefully reviewed information from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to help ensure that the state would not face unforeseen costs related to the program. The federal deadline to apply for LWA is September 10.