Washington state workers who lost their jobs due to COVID-19-related disruptions can apply for $300 in extra weekly unemployment benefits.
The federal program, called Lost Wage Assistance (LWA), is the result of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump as a partial replacement of the expired $600 weekly unemployment benefit that ran from March 1 through the end of July under the congressional CARES Act.
LWA, which originally sought to add $400 per week to state unemployment checks, will only cover the first three weeks in August.
Washington workers who received at least $1 per week in state unemployment benefits from July 26, 2020, through Aug. 15, 2020 are eligible for the extra $300 weekly LWA payments.
Workers who were already receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (the $600 weekly benefit) will likely not need to take any additional steps to receive the new benefit, according to a Q&A published by Washington state’s Employment Security Department (ESD). Others must login to their ESD unemployment benefits portal and self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to the pandemic.
“It seems the intention of the executive order was to make it function similarly to the CARES Act, so people would just get the money,” Eliza Forsythe, a labor economist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told CNBC.
While Washington gained approval for the federal LWA program on Aug. 24, the state has not yet announced when the payments would become available for those who are eligible. ESD is still processing unemployment applications stretching back to March after fraudsters secured hundreds of millions of dollars in fake claims at the start of the pandemic.
Washington’s unemployment department estimates that the LWA could provide more than $400 million to the state’s economy.
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