OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Employment Security Department (ESD) is applying for a federal program that would put an extra $300 per week in the hands of unemployed Washingtonians.
The ESD will apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) no later than Friday, according to a statement from the department Thursday.
If the application is approved, it will allow the ESD to provide an additional $300 per week for three weeks to people who are out of a job due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We will implement this as quickly as possible to distribute the extra payments to Washingtonians once our application is approved," said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine in a statement. "Any additional funds to help unemployed workers are welcome – and we estimate that this will provide more than $400 million to families, individuals and our state’s economy."
The additional $300 is a temporary emergency measure, according to the ESD. It's currently time-limited to those filing claims over a three-week period, between July 26 and Aug. 15. Not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible.
"We will continue to work with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to pursue any additional funds for Washingtonians that may remain after the initial three-week period of benefits are distributed," LeVine said.
If approved, the extra funds will help cushion the blow for many Washingtonians who had their checks reduced after the additional $600 per week provided by the federal CARES Act expired at the end of July.
The Lost Wages Assistance program has different requirements for eligibility and is drawn from a limited pool of money from FEMA to be shared among all states that apply and are approved. To qualify, claimants must self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.
If the application is approved, ESD will provide a defined timeline for when the program will launch so that payments can be made to eligible claimants.
This program was authorized through a Presidential Memorandum signed on Aug. 8.