President Trump created the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program shortly after the enhanced unemployment benefits included in the CARES Act expired. Under this executive action, the president directed funds from FEMA to provide unemployment recipients an extra $300 per week in addition to their regular state benefits.
As this program is also drawing to an end, only a few states still offer these supplemental benefits. Millions of people are continuing to hope that lawmakers will approve another stimulus package soon, particularly now that the election is over. However, negotiations are unlikely to continue since President Trump has yet to concede, and the GOP still holds the Senate.
Which States Still Provide LWA Benefits?
When President Trump approved the LWA, the program was intended to last six weeks, with retroactive payments beginning from August 1. Arizona was the first to issue the $300 payments starting on August 17, though due to insufficient funding, it no longer offers this program. Altogether, 49 states offered LWA benefits, with South Dakota being the only state to reject funding.
State governments were given the option to supplement the $300 from the federal government with an additional $100. However, all but three states declined — Kentucky, Montana, and West Virginia were the only ones who complied.
The six weeks have come and gone, and state funding is depleting rapidly. Currently, the only states still offering the $300 bonus include:
- New Jersey
If you live in one of these states, contact your state unemployment agency to ask how you can qualify for retroactive LWA payments.
Second Stimulus Bill Negotiations Remain Deadlocked
On October 30, President Trump told reporters, “we will have a tremendous stimulus package immediately after the election.” Last Sunday, he admitted Joe Biden won the election but refused to concede or address stimulus talks.
President-elect Biden has publicized his plans for the next stimulus package, including the second round of direct payments, funding for state and local governments, unemployment benefits, and more. However, he has not specified a price tag or how much funding each provision would receive.
Lawmakers and the White House have failed to find a middle ground since most of the CARES Act measures ended over the summer. In October, the White House proposed a $1.9 trillion bill. It is considerably higher than the $1 trillion Republicans are willing to pay but still short of Democrats’ $2.2 trillion legislation.
In a Thursday press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer touched on the need for more aid for Americans. “It has been our position all along to crush the virus, honor our heroes, put money in the pockets of the American people. This is what we put in the Heroes Act to crush the virus.”
But Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that a costly stimulus bill is “not a place I think we’re willing to go. But I do think there needs to be another package. Hopefully we can get past the impasse we’ve had now for four or five months and get serious.”
But with drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech announcing their coronavirus vaccine show a 90% success rate last week, many fear that lawmakers will use the development as an excuse to delay further aid.
Who Qualifies For The LWA Program?
To qualify for LWA payments, you must:
- Have qualified for unemployment by August 1, 2020
- Receive a minimum of $100 per week from state benefits
- Have lost your job or experienced reduced hours because of the pandemic
Additionally, your state may have other criteria you must meet to receive the $300 benefit. Visit your state unemployment agency website to find more information.
Who Qualifies For Regular Unemployment?
When Congress created the CARES Act, they also loosened eligibility restrictions, allowing workers typically exempt from regular state benefits to qualify. Under the change, part-time workers, the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers could apply for standard unemployment insurance under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) until December 31, 2020.
In addition, you may also qualify for unemployment if:
- You or a relative were diagnosed with COVID-19 and unable to work
- Your doctor told you to self-quarantine
- Your employer shut down during the pandemic
- You care for children or other relatives while schools, childcare, adult day care, or other facilities are closed during the pandemic
- You are a college student who worked full- or part-time last year
Again, contact your state unemployment office to learn how you can receive these important benefits.
- Rubio, Fidel. “US Unemployment Benefits: Which States Still Pay $300 Extra?” AS.com, AS En, 14 Nov. 2020, en.as.com/en/2020/11/14/latest_news/1605309216_996169.html.
- Taylor, Andrew. “Democrats Press Relief, Biden Acceptance.” Arkansas Online, 13 Nov. 2020, www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/nov/13/democrats-press-relief-biden-acceptance/?news.