[Updated following approval of 2021 UI program extensions under $900 COVID stimulus package] With the 2021 extension of PUA and PEUC, along with an extra $300 FPUC and $100 MEUC for 11 weeks, many states are updating their systems to process these changes. This means delays and potential lapses in benefits for those who automatically qualify for these extensions. You can see the 2021 UI state tracker of the new supplementary payments, including updated state UI resource pages for the latest information.
[Nov 2020 – Updated state payout dates and FAQs] The table below shows which states have now officially enrolled in the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment benefits program. Whether state UI agencies add the extra $100 weekly payment on top of the $300 per week base amount or just count existing unemployment benefits towards this $100 will vary state to state. The table also shows actual and estimated dates claimants can expect their first weekly unemployment payment, if eligible. I’ll continue to update the table as more states sign-up for the program.
Approved states will only get a maximum of 6 weeks of funding (weeks covering August 1st to September 5th) for the LWA program per recent FEMA guidance to state labor and unemployment agencies that have already made several weeks of payments. Several states which started making the $300 payments earlier than other states have already been notified that their LWA funding allotment has run out and no additional funding will be provided. The maximum benefit in most states is $300 p/week or $1800 if you qualify for all weeks, as shown in the table below.
The good news however is that even if the state you live in takes several more weeks to roll out this program and start paying claims, payments will be retroactive to the beginning of August (week of July 26th to August 1st), the first week when this program was in place. So if you were eligible for the first three weeks you will at a minimum get $900 from this program in your first payment. Subsequent payments will come in following weeks based on FEMA funding approval and state processing timelines.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions and Comments
Based on some repeated questions in the comment section below I have received here are answers to help those who may have similar questions:
$600 FPUC vs $300 to $400 LWA – $99 Qualification difference
Many people have been asking if they qualified for the $600 FPUC payment prior to its expiry at the end of July, would they qualify for the current LWA payment? Sadly the answer may be no, because the $600 FPUC payment only had a requirement that the claimant be eligible to get at least $1 of regular state UI. The LWA unemployment benefit on the other hand (per above) requires claimants to be getting at least $100 of UI benefits (on a pre-tax basis). This $99 difference is a pretty significant difference in many states with low unemployment insurance benefits and in many cases the $100 threshold may eliminate part time workers or those furloughed from their jobs with partial incomes. Not however in some high unemployment benefit states like New York, the minimum unemployment payment for eligible claimants is $104. So everyone receiving UI benefits in that state will qualify for LWA.
Question – Do I need to certify again for the LWA payment?
In most states if you are already on PUA, you would have already certified your job loss or loss of income was due to COVID related reasons. The PUA qualification threshold for this requirement was higher than LWA. However if you are starting a new claim or were getting over $100 in existing UI benefits from other programs you will need to certify (one time only) for the LWA program. You will generally receive an email, letter or notification in your UI portal to do this certification. If not then check your state UI website. If you don’t do this or do it late, you may miss out on your retroactive LWA payments if funding for the program has run out in your state.
Question – Why I am being asked for identify verification to get my payment?
Because of the rapid and inconsistent roll-out of the LWA program many states are seeing a sharp rise in fraudulent claims for these payments. As a result several states (e.g. SC) are implementing additional verification checks before making payments. This is delaying payments to eligible claimants by 2 to 3 weeks in several states. If your payment is delayed or you have only got your first batch of payments, then you will need to contact your state UI agency (or check UI portal) to ensure your remaining payments have not been held up due to additional fraud verification delays.
Question – I’m listed as DUA for my unemployment. Will I get the 300 dollars (under LWA) or don’t I qualify for under DUA?
Answer – This depends on how you got your Disaster unemployment assistance (DUA). If your DUA benefits qualification was not related to the Pandemic, e.g due to natural disasters (flood, hurricane) that impacted your employment, then you won’t be eligible for LWA. However Individuals receiving DUA benefits because their employment was impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for LWA. Note some state unemployment agencies (e.g Texas and Oklahoma) are sometimes referring to DUA as PUA, in which case under PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) you would qualify for the $300 to $400 LWA payment.
Question – I am just below the $100 threshold ($90 to $99), can I still get this payment?
Gina asked, “I receive $97 a week in unemployment benefit in California. Will I get the extra $300? Just $3 short!”
Technically no. You must be getting at least $100 (pre-tax) in weekly benefits from the following qualified unemployment programs below to get the extra $300 to $400 LWA payment. However several states like California and New York are temporarily raising their state minimum unemployment benefit to put claimants in their states above the $100 limit so they qualify for LWA. You will need to check with your state unemployment agency to see if they will make this exception for you.
- Unemployment compensation, including regular State Unemployment Compensation,
- 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)
- Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program
Question: Working part time or a few hours, will I qualify for LWA?
This was Jonathan’s example: I qualify for weekly $117 PUA payments every week. This week I worked one day part time and will receive less than $100 from PUA. Will I still Receive the additional $300?
Answer: The LWA program’s $100 cutoff is based on a claimant’s benefit base rate, which is calculated before any
deductions or reductions. This includes supplementary job payments by working part time in a given week, which would reduce your normal UI benefit claim. Because LWA eligibility is based on what you are eligible for or your base rate, you can still qualify for the $300 LWA payment if your actual weekly payment (net of taxes and deductions) is less than $100.
Question: Do I have to reapply to get these benefits?
Answer: It will depend on your state. In most states you won’t have to reapply and will be notified via mail or your UI portal around your eligibility and payment date for these benefits (will be on your claim balance). You may have to self certify that your unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (which is a very general criteria that almost anyone can use). Payments will be made retroactive to August 1st for the weeks you have certified and qualified ($100 threshold) for this payment.
Question Are LWA payments subject to federal income tax?
Answer: Yes. LWA is subject to federal income tax and will have been communicated to you by your state UI agency at the time of filing or certification
Question: Can LWA UI payments be withheld or offset for Child Support or Past Debt payments?
Answer: According to DOL guidance, Offsets of LWA payments other than for tax withholding are not permitted by state agencies. This includes child support debts.
Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) State Payment Date and Status
|State||LWA Status||Start Date||Max Weeks||Weekly Amount|
(see estimate details)
|Arkansas||Paid||Sep 12 (up to Oct 2nd)||6||$300|
|California||Paid||Sep 7th (Phase 1)|
Sep 15th (Phase 2)
|Colorado||Paid||From Sep 18th|
|District of Columbia||Paid||From Sep 28th |
|Hawaii||Paid||Sep 23rd |
|Indiana||Paid||Week of Sep 21st||6||$300|
|Kansas||Paid||From Oct 6th |
|Maryland||Paid||Sep 12th (schedule)||6||$300|
|Nebraska||Paid||Sep 18th (First 3 weeks)|
From Sep 20th (remaining payments)
|Nevada||Paying 5th and 6th weeks||From Oct 20th (First 3 weeks)|
From Nov 11 (Last 3 weeks)
(see DETR updates)
|New Hampshire||Paid||Sep 12th||6||$300|
|New Jersey||Paid||From Oct 22nd|
(see more details)
|New Mexico||Paid||Sep 10th||6||$300|
|New York||Paid||Sep 14th||6||$300|
|North Carolina||Paid||Sep 6th (4 weeks)|
Sep 16th (2 weeks)
|North Dakota||Paid||Sep 17th||6||$300|
|Ohio||Paid||From Sep 14th (on PUA)|
From Sep 20th (others)
|Pennsylvania||Paid||Sep 17th (first 3 wk batch)|
Sep 24th (second 3wk batch)
|Rhode Island||Paid||Sep 6th||6||$300|
|South Carolina||Paid||Sep 25th |
(7 to 14 days processing)
|South Dakota||No Payment||Did not enroll||6||-|
|Utah||Paid||Sep 9th to Sep 23rd|
(paying in batches)
|Vermont||Paid||Week of Sep 14th||6||$300|
(see payout details)
|West Virginia||Paid||Sep 16th||6||$400
|Wisconsin||Paid||From Oct 22nd||6||$300|
Payment Start date is when the state actually started processing LWA payments OR is the estimated date of the first payment processing based on available information. Note: Due to bank processing delays, it can take 2 to 4 days after the noted dates for benefits to hit your bank account or debit card. Please see links to more information in the table or your state UI website for specific payment status. If you find any mistakes or have updates, please leave a comment below and I will update table to help others.
Also it is highly likely that the $44 billion funding for the LWA program via FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund will run out well before the December end date, unless Congress agrees on funding for an extension. States were initially only approved for 3 weeks and will have to keep requesting funding approval from FEMA on weekly basis. Some experts are saying benefits will only last 4 to 6 weeks, so states that have signed up early will likely get the most benefit payments. Further if your payments stop, it is likely due to states running out of federal funding.
Note however that should Congress pass another stimulus bill with enhanced unemployment benefits funding (e.g. FPUC extension), the LWA program will terminate immediately per program guidelines.
Note – States must apply via FEMA (by September 10th, 2020) to get access to unemployment funding for the LWA. Once FEMA reviews and approves the state’s grant application, the State Unemployment Insurance agency will coordinate with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and FEMA to program, implement, and distribute LWA funds once they update their systems to support program requirements such as claimant eligibility. States will be the ones administering the program and making payouts. The LWA state payment tracker table above shows which states are currently approved and the estimated week payments will begin. You should check your states unemployment website and UI portal for exact payout dates
[Aug 15th update] With Congress unable to reach an agreement on a new stimulus bill and no impending legal challenge, it looks like Trumps executive order to extend and replace the existing extra weekly unemployment benefit (FPUC, or $600 weekly payment) may actually be implemented following guidance by the Department of Labor (DOL) on the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program. The following are key guidelines issued by the DOL:
The LWA program will provide eligible claimants in state administered unemployment Insurance (UI) programs up to $400 per week additional UI benefits, starting with weeks of unemployment on or after Aug. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 27, 2020 at the latest. This means that payments will be retroactive to August 1st, even though the program has been implemented after that.
Per recent federal enhanced unemployment benefit programs guidelines, to quality for LWA benefits claimants must certify that they are unemployed or under unemployed due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related reasons, and the state must confirm that the individual is receiving at least $100 of existing unemployment benefits under current benefit programs (which include state UI, PUA or PEUC). This is supposedly to prevent fraud from people who were claiming this payment with minimal UI benefits.
LWA will be funded through a joint federal-state agreement that requires states to contribute 25% ($100) of the benefit payment with the remainder (75%, or $300) coming from the federal government. States can use their own budgets or the emergency Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) they received under the CARES Act to cover their portion of the enhanced LWA UI payment, however this is not mandatory and is at the discretion of the state administration.
More importantly under DOL guidance, states may count funds that are already used to provide regular state UI payments toward the state match. If this is the case then the revised extra FPUC weekly UI amount would only be $300, the federally funded amount.
Because Trump’s executive order cannot allocate new federal funding, the LWA program may end earlier than Dec. 27 (highly likely) if FEMA expends $44 billion or the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund decreases to $25 billion. Congress would then have to approve additional funding.
There are still several questions around how and when states can implement this. While the DOL guidelines will provide more clarity it will likely take weeks for states to update their unemployment systems and roll-out the updated guidelines.