Lost Wages Assistance payments doubled from 3 weeks to 6 weeks

  • Wed Sep 23rd, 2020 3:30pm
  • News

By David Haerle

The Daily World

Those still receiving unemployment benefits due to the ongoing pandemic should get a nice surprise in their bank accounts this week.

The state’s Unemployment Security Department began sending out $300-per-week extra payments for those who are unemployed or working fewer hours due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

But while original reports were that recipients were to receive three weeks worth of the extra benefits — or $900 — the pot of federal money is bigger than expected and many will get up to six weeks in payments — or a lump sum of $1,800. ($1,620 if you automatically have 10% IRS withholding deducted from each payment).

Lost Wages Assistance is a federal program that adds $300 for each week the program remains federally funded.

The federal government announced Sept. 9 that the LWA program is funded only for the approved weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and Sept. 5. Washington has been approved for the maximum number of weeks available, so far.

If you have an eServices account, the status message at the top of your eServices homepage will change to “We issued a payment on (date) for your Lost Wages Assistance benefits.”

The Weeks summary tab in your eServices account will include the payment. Check your claims for weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and Sept. 5. If the Status column shows you were paid for those weeks, the Benefits Paid column will show an increase of $300.

The only exception to this payment timeline is if your unemployment claim for any of the weeks ending Aug. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and Sept. 5 is pending due to an issue being investigated. The state’s message to recipients is that it would first resolve those issues and pay unemployment benefits for those weeks. Then, if Lost Wages Assistance funds are still available, it would pay the extra $300 for those weeks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the amount the state requested to pay claimants. In addition, FEMA is allowing states plenty of time to resolve these claims.

Contrary to earlier reports on these payments, to be eligible, claimants do not need to receive more than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits in order to receive the extra benefits. Since Washington’s minimum weekly benefit amount is higher than the $100 required by LWA, this is not a concern for Washington claimants. As long as you are eligible to receive at least $1 in benefits, you can receive LWA. For example, if you receive less than $100 each week because money is being deducted from your weekly benefit payment, you will still be eligible for the entire $300.

The state Unemployment Security Department estimates that the LWA could provide more than $400 million to families, individuals and the state’s economy.