Feds provide grant to Washington state to boost unemployment pay for jobless

By Rolf Boone

The Olympian

FEMA announced Monday the state has been approved for a grant under a lost wages assistance program. The grant funding will allow the state to provide $300 a week in jobless benefits to those who are unemployed due to COVID-19.

The $300 is in addition to existing unemployment benefits, according to a news release.

“FEMA will work with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to implement a system to make this funding available to Washington residents,” FEMA officials said in the news release.

The state Employment Security Department applied for the grant last week. “Upon approval, this will allow ESD to provide an additional $300 per week for three weeks to those who have lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis and are receiving unemployment benefits,” the ESD said Thursday in a release.

The money helps those who lost a $600-per-week supplement to unemployment last month, but is a short-term measure and has different eligibility requirements.

“It is not the same as the additional $600 per week that was available under the specific CARES Act provision called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which expired at the end of July,” ESD said.

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Aug. 8 that authorized the program.

Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine said last week: “We will implement this as quickly as possible to distribute the extra payments to Washingtonians once our application is approved. Any additional funds to help unemployed workers are welcome — and we estimate that this will provide more than $400 million to families, individuals and our state’s economy.

“It is important, however, to emphasize that this benefit is currently time-limited to those filing claims over a three-week period, between July 26 and Aug. 15, 2020, and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible. We will continue to work with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to pursue any additional funds for Washingtonians that may remain after the initial three-week period of benefits are distributed.”

To learn more about FEMA’s lost wages supplemental payment assistance, go to: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/governments/supplemental-payments-lost-wages-guidelines.