The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program:
In early September, the Department of Labor (DOL) approved Alaska’s participation in the new FEMA LWA Program of $300 in weekly benefits for up to six weeks was approved. The DOL stated that the program would be operational in six to eight weeks.
The following bullets show some of the issues that concern this new funding:
- The LWA Program is not an Unemployment Insurance (UI) program. Therefore, the DOL requires that the state not combine FEMA funds and UI Trust Funds, which requires a new IT coding for accounting and reporting.
- The current UI system is not designed for funds to be dispersed from any sources other than the UI program.
- Programs provided for under the Cares Act are UI benefit programs. The previous $600 weekly federal benefit was disbursed through traditional UI systems.
- FEMA funding is unique requiring an entire system to be built with separate accounting and financial reporting requirements.
- Reimbursement is not allowed. The state cannot pay from UI Funds and request reimbursement.
- The unemployment office is in the final stages of testing EFT payments.
- Retroactive lump sum payments will be made rather than the normal weekly benefit.
Labor exchange services are delivered through the 14 job centers throughout the state of Alaska. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development collaborates with multiple partner agencies to provide universal access and services to employers, job seekers, and workers who pursue unique training objectives. Anyone out of work can connect with a local job center by calling (877) 724-2539.
Workers’ Compensation Rates:
Workers’ compensation insurance rates will decrease in 2021. Also, workers’ compensation voluntary loss costs will decrease by an average of 14.9 percent and assigned risk rates will decrease by an average of 9.6 percent. These rate decreases suggest a positive downward trend in reduced workers’ compensation losses. Since 2015, the state advises that rates reduced by roughly 46 percent, which can be attributed to drops in claim frequency and favorable changes in medical costs.
For additional information about the Division of Insurance, Visit commerce.alaska.gov/web/ins for information about the Division of Insurance, commerce.alaska.gov for information about related agencies, labor.alaska.gov/wc for information about the Division of Workers’ Compensation, or labor.alaska.gov for general information.
Our office will monitor COVID-19 updates closely and will send out additional announcements as we become aware of any updates. You can also review these updates on our website at https://thomas-and-company.com/covid-19/ too.
Please reach out to your representative with any questions.