President Trump signs Executive Order to supplement lost wages due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Download the PDF, “Executive Order.” (Updated 9/9/2020)
On Saturday, August 8, 2020, 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.
The State Workforce Agencies can apply for a grant from FEMA to make supplemental lost wage payments to those individuals who are receiving unemployment benefits. Once a grant has been approved, the State Workforce Agency can pay up to $400 in addition to the current unemployment benefits. Most individuals will likely only see an additional $300 per week since the program allows the states to fund their portion of the program (25%) through the the current benefits that they are paying. The states can – if they choose –provide the additional $100 through the aid that they previously received through the Coronavirus Relief Fund – created by the CARES ACT – or an alternate source.
How the program works
First, in order to be eligible for the additional benefits, the State Workforce Agency must apply for and be approved for the grant. Some states have already indicated that they will not be seeking out the additional funding or are waiting on clarification on how to administer these funds. This assistance is not considered unemployment benefits so the State Workforce Agencies may experience challenges and delays in adding these lost wages payments to the current unemployment benefits. States must apply for the grants by September 10, 2020 in order to be considered for a grant.
Second, 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.
The Executive Order states 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. This means that individuals can receive back payments under this program for benefits that were paid out after July 25, 2020 (when the $600 federal supplement expired). The program may terminate earlier if:
- 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.
What States are participating?
As states apply for the grant from FEMA, we will provide updates on the amount of benefits that will be added and when the benefits are expected to start.
Download the PDF, “Executive Order.”
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.