With no further coronavirus federal stimulus relief bill on the horizon, individual states are rushing to take advantage of a weekly unemployment benefits program to try and secure more money to support people without work.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has been authorized by an executive order from President Donald Trump to allocate funds for unemployment via the Lost Wage Assistance program.
The program provides a way of extending federal benefits to people who’ve lost jobs due to COVID-19 now that the $600 weekly supplement benefit from initial stimulus package has ended. FEMA will provide grants to participating states and the District of Columbia, allowing eligible unemployed people to receive up to $300 in additional benefits each month.
To date, 44 states have been approved to allocate the benefits. States have until September 10 to apply for the funds.
President Trump has earmarked up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to be used for the program. The length of the program will be determined by how ling FEMA funds are available for benefits.
“Lost wages assistance will increase the amount of money states can provide to unemployed Americans without significantly increasing the cost for states to offer unemployment insurance,” FEMA said in a statement on its website. “The assistance is intended to help people support themselves and their families as they look for work.”