Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program Update
MDES will begin processing the first payment of the extra $300 from the federal Lost Wages Assistance program, created by Presidential Memorandum, during the week ending September 12, 2020. Some claimants may begin seeing their first payment by September 19, 2020. MDES is finalizing the system for this update. This is the last step necessary to allow for payments.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lost Wages Assistance
On August 20, 2020, Governor Tate Reeves and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) announced that Mississippi applied for an additional $300 of benefits a week from the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. FEMA approved the grant for Mississippi on Saturday, August 22. MDES will implement the program and funds will be available within three to four weeks of August 20th.
Q: What is the LWA program?
A: President Donald Trump signed four Presidential Memorandums on August 8, 2020, including one of which offers an additional $300 weekly payment to individuals who are eligible for unemployment benefits or CARES ACT payments. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to provide guidance to states for the proper administration of the benefit. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security will continue to communicate the guidelines of the program as they are finalized by these federal agencies.
Q: Has Mississippi applied for the LWA program?
A: Yes, Mississippi has applied for the Lost Wages Assistance program.
Q: Has Mississippi been approved for the LWA program?
A: FEMA has assured the states that money for three weeks will be available to pay claims for the weeks ending August 1, 8, and 15, 2020. Mississippi’s application was approved on Saturday, August 22. MDES will implement the program and funds will be available within three to four weeks.
To learn more about FEMA’s lost wages supplemental payment assistance, visit: https://www.fema.gov/fact-sheet/fema-lost-wages-supplemental-payment-assistance.
FEMA Supplemental Lost Wages Payments Under Other Needs Assistance FAQ
FEMA Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance
FEMA Announces Lost Wages Grant for Mississippi
Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019
Q: How much money will a person be eligible for each week?
A: An eligible individual could receive a $300 additional stimulus benefit in addition to their weekly unemployment benefit.
States who are approved to participate in the program will be approved up to three weeks of payments, beginning July 26, 2020, through Aug. 15, 2020.
Q: If I am eligible, how many weeks may I receive the LWA?
A: The LWA program has a limited budget, so the length of time the LWA program is available is based on the availability of limited funds distributed to the participating states. LWA is not payable for any week of unemployment ending after December 26, 2020.
Q: Can the LWA Program be terminated?
A: Yes, the LWA program may terminate earlier if:
- The LWA payment requested is after week ending December 26, 2020
- FEMA expends the $44 billion from the DRF account designated by the President for the LWA program; or
- The balance of the DRF decreases to $25 billion; or
- Legislation is enacted that provides, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, supplemental federal unemployment compensation or similar compensation for unemployed or underemployed individuals.
For additional information regarding the termination of the program, refer to the FEMA website: https://www.fema.gov/fact-sheet/fema-lost-wages-supplemental-payment-assistance.
Q: Do I need to submit a new application for the LWA?
A: If you are currently filing weekly certifications you will not need to submit a new application. MDES will identify individuals with potential eligibility for LWA who are not currently filing. Notifications will be sent to those individuals advising of any needed action. All individuals must provide self-certification that he or she is unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Q: If I complete the LWA certification, am I guaranteed to receive LWA payments?
A: No. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for LWA is limited. Once all funds are depleted the program will end and no further payments will be allowed. There is no guarantee that you will receive LWA payments. MDES will process payments in accordance with FEMA guidelines and approval until all LWA funds are used.
Q: What time period does the LWA cover?
A: Benefits will be payable for weeks of unemployment beginning the week ending August 1, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending no later than December 27, 2020, or when the balance in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) reaches $25 billion, or when the $44 billion from the DRF designated for LWA is exhausted, or when the state matching funds have been exhausted, whichever occurs first. Funding for these benefits would also terminate upon the enactment of federal legislation providing, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, supplemental Federal unemployment compensation, or similar compensation, for unemployed or underemployed individuals.
Q: Who is eligible for the LWA?
A: The state must follow the federal guidelines. Eligible individuals include recipients whose weekly benefit amount is at least $100 per week in the following unemployment-related assistance programs:
- Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Unemployment Compensation (UC) (state benefits)
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
- Extended Benefits (EB)
- Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
- Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)
- Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA); and
- Payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program.
In addition, an individual must have attested that they are unemployed, or partially unemployed, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Who is not eligible for the LWA?
A: Primarily, the following individuals are not eligible for the LWA benefit:
- Individuals who are collecting Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
- Individuals who were not eligible to receive an unemployment benefit in one of the above listed programs starting July 26, 2020
- Individuals whose weekly benefit amount is less than $100 in one of the above listed programs starting July 26, 2020
Q: If I am eligible, when will I receive the LWA benefit?
A: If Mississippi is approved to participate in the program, eligible individuals should expect to receive payments within four weeks after the state is approved to participate in the program. Benefits will be paid retroactively for any back weeks determined eligible. The first possible payable back week is the week ending August 1, 2020.
MDES will make every effort to comply with LWA program guidelines and process payments as soon as possible.
Q: If I am eligible and received payments for weeks ending after August 1, 2020, but I did not receive the additional $600, will I be paid the additional $300?
A: Yes. LWA is payable retroactively to eligible claimants beginning with the week ending August 1, 2020, but only if you have attested that you are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Q: Will I be paid for prior weeks if my claim had pending issues and my eligibility was not determined until after the program was terminated?
A: The LWA program will terminate once one of the four termination provisions is met; NO further LWA will be payable at that point. An individual whose eligibility status is determined after the program end date is not entitled to LWA for weeks of unemployment occurring before the end date.
MDES understands that this program is critical to many, is making every effort to ensure that the state meets the eligibility criteria and that any LWA payment is administered accurately to avoid any improper payment. MDES is seeking further guidance and clarification from the U.S. DOL and FEMA for system programming and implementation to adequately administer the LWA Program.
Q: How many weeks of payments will I receive from the LWA program?
A: Initially, the five weeks ending August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22 and August 29 will be paid for eligible individuals . It is estimated the Lost Wages Assistance will be available for five (5) to six (6) weeks.
MDES has requested authorization from FEMA to pay LWA benefits for the week ending September 5, 2020
Benefits will be paid retroactively to eligible individuals based on available funding.
MDES processed the first payment of the extra $300 from the federal Lost Wages Assistance program, the week ending September 12, 2020. Some claimants may begin seeing their first payments by September 19, 2020.