Extra $300 a week unemployment approved for Florida

By Tami Stevenson

Last week, Governor DeSantis announced he applied for a grant for Florida’s participation in the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program. FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor announced approval of the grant over the weekend for Florida to receive a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow Florida to provide $300 per week - on top of their regular unemployment benefit - to those unemployed due to COVID-19.

In a release, FEMA said they will work with Governor Ron DeSantis to implement a system to make this funding available to Florida residents.

On Aug. 8, 2020, 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 the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Florida agreed to administer a lost wages program for its citizens who are unemployed due to COVID-19.

This grant will allow Florida to offer an additional $300 per week to eligible Reemployment Assistance claimants. To be eligible for this benefit, claimants must be currently receiving at least $100 in an approved Reemployment Assistance program weekly benefit amount and must certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Payments will be retroactive to August 1, 2020.

This includes individuals receiving:
• State Reemployment Assistance, including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX);

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC);

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA);

• Extended Benefits (EB);

•Short-Time Compensation (STC);

• Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA); and

• Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program.

The LWA program will be administered similarly to the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. No additional application will be necessary. Eligible Floridians who are currently receiving Reemployment Assistance will receive their LWA benefits the same week they receive their weekly Reemployment Assistance benefits. DEO highly recommends that Reemployment Assistance claimants select direct deposit as their means of receiving benefits to ensure payments are received as quickly as possible.

Funding for this program comes from FEMA disaster relief funds. Guidance from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that states should be able to receive approximately three weeks’ worth of benefits upon approval, with additional weekly approval being granted on a weekly basis, depending on the remaining balance of the fund. However, funding could end at any time, and is contingent upon a required state match based on state re-employment assistance paid out during the period.

“On behalf of Floridians who are continuing to face challenges finding employment, I would like to thank President Trump for providing additional funding while they get back on their feet,” said Governor DeSantis.