Executive Order Updated – Lost Wage Assistance Expires

By September 11, 2020October 12th, 2020COVID-19

*Updated 10/12/2020*

Download the PDF, Lost Wages Assistance Expires

FEMA recently announced that the funding for Lost Wage Assistance is ending

 Last month President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order providing additional relief to those individuals who have lost wages due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  The President authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expend up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to be used for lost wage payments.  FEMA recently announced that the funding limits have been met and that states will no longer be able to request additional weeks after September 5, 2020.

The State Workforce Agencies that applied for a grant from FEMA to make supplemental lost wage payments to those individuals who are receiving unemployment benefits will be limited to 5 – 6 weeks of additional payments.  All states – except South Dakota who did not apply and Nevada who applied but has not yet been approved, will be making the additional payments for benefits retroactive to the week of August 1, 2020.

How the program works

Once the State Workforce Agency is approved for the grant, the SWA’s will need to develop methods to pay out the grant money. Since this assistance is not considered unemployment benefits the State Workforce Agencies must develop alternate methods for adding these lost wage payments to the current unemployment benefits.  Many states have been working on these alternate plans and are beginning to make the LWA payments.

To be eligible an individual must “self-certify” weekly that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to a disruption attributable to COVID-19. In addition, the individual must receive at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits under one of the following programs in order to qualify for the additional lost wage payments.

  • Regular Unemployment Compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Extended Benefits (Additional 13 weeks granted by the CARES Act)
  • Short-Time Compensation
  • Unemployment Compensation for Federal employees (UCFE)
  • Unemployment for Ex-Service Members (UCX)
  • Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)
  • Self-Employment Assistance

If an individual has exhausted their benefits and they are receiving state funded additional benefits or they are receiving Disaster Unemployment Assistance, they will not qualify for the additional Lost Wages payment.

Program Duration

Multiple states are reporting that the federal government has ended the Lost Wages Assistance Program as of September 5th. Depending on the amount of funds that were approved, this means the program will only be able to pay out 5 or 6 weeks of benefits to claimants or as long as the existing FEMA funds deposited remain available.

Originally, the Executive Order stated that lost wages benefits are payable to eligible claimants beginning with weeks of unemployment ending on or after August 1, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending no later than December 27, 2020 unless one of the following conditions is met.

  • The $44 billion in allocations runs out before 12/27/2020
  • If the funds in the Disaster Relief Fund dip below $25 billion
    • This is the same fund that is used for weather -related disaster and other emergencies. As of the beginning of August, FEMA reported that the balance in the DRF was at $74 billion.
  • Legislation is enacted that provides, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation for unemployed or underemployed individuals.

Which States are participating?

All states have applied for the FEMA Grant except for South Dakota. This chart lists the date the grant was approved, the amount of benefits being paid and when claimants can expect to receive their first payment for LWA.Guam was approved as of 9/8/2020 and will be paying $400. The exact date the payments will begin is TBD


Our office has been monitoring legislation such as this since our inception and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.  We will continue to provide updates to our clients as they become available.  As always, if there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our website at www.thomas-and-company.com.




Mike Parker

Author Mike Parker

Mike has 30 years of experience in unemployment cost control management, and has been with Thomas & Company for 25 years. He is the primary contact with state agencies building strong relationships, lobbying for opportunities that increase quality of service and efficiencies, and insuring compliance with state specific requirements. He works with the client service team, answering technical questions related to the unemployment insurance programs administered by the individual states and oversees the processes associated with wage audits and fraudulent claim inquiries. Mike is a member of the SIDES Operations Committee and currently sits on four Operations Committee subcommittees.

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