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What To Know About The Lost Wages Assistance Program -- And If You Qualify

On Aug. 21, The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved funding for the North Carolina Division of Employment Security to give $300 per week in the Lost Wages Assistance program for eligible residents for a limited number of weeks.

North Carolina applied for about $321 million in federal funding to provide $300 to eligible claimants.

Here is a gist of what the program is, who is eligible, how to apply and how much funding is available.

What Is The Lost Wages Assistance Program?

Lost Wages Assitance is not an unemployment insurance program. It is a FEMA program. This means it provides payment on top of the unemployment benefits for eligible claimants.

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program, applicants must also qualify for a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 for one of the following unemployment programs:

  • State Unemployment Insurance

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

  • Extended Benefits

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

  • Trade Readjustment Allowance

Additionally, the worker must be unemployed or partially employed, meaning at least 50% of hours and wages are cut, because of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 
How Can You Apply

Workers do not have to file a separate claim or application for Lost Wages Assistance. However, they will need to take steps to confirm that they were unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic for the state to determine if they are eligible.

Employers and former employers must verify with the state that the worker was let go or partially let go due to the pandemic.

Potential recipients will see a link on the customer menu page on their account to “file Lost Wages Assistance certification." If the worker does not see this link, they will need to complete the certification.

How Long Will Lost Wages Assistance Be Available? 

The program's length is determined by how long FEMA funds remain open for benefits.

States were initially approved to receive funding that should cover three weeks of benefits. For North Carolina, these are the weeks ending on Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.

FEMA will determine additional funding for Lost Wages Assistance weekly. North Carolina will continue to apply for other benefits if funding remains available and the program remains in place.

How Much Is FEMA Funding Available To The States For Lost Wages Assistance?

There is up to $44 billion in the FEMA disaster fund currently being used for the program. FEMA will continue to provide funding to states until:

  • The $44 billion is used from the Disaster Relief Fund.

  • The total Disaster Relief Fund balance falls to $25 billion.

  • There’s legislation making similar compensation.

  • The end of the period of assistance for the grants on Dec. 27.

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Dante Miller joined WFAE as a Report for America Corps Member in 2020 in the unique partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library using radio and Wikipedia to fill news deserts.

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