Minnesotans receiving unemployment benefits could soon receive an additional $300 a week.
Gov. Tim Walz on Friday announced the state has applied to FEMA for the Lost Wages Assistance program, which, when implemented, will provide the additional money to those receiving unemployment who are eligible, which includes people receiving at least $100/week in unemployment and are unemployed due to COVID-19.
It comes after the federal government's COVID-19 unemployment program, which provided $600 a week to those who have lost work or who can't work due to COVID-19, expired at the end of July without being renewed.
“When the additional federal $600 weekly benefit ended in late July, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who remain out of work were affected,” Walz said in a statement.
"Without additional federal benefits, families are struggling to pay for basic necessities. We must use every resource at our disposal to help Minnesotans through this pandemic."
Once FEMA approves the state’s application, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will transfer funding to Minnesota. The Unemployment Insurance program will begin to pay benefits when the funding is received.
The benefits are retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1, 2020, and people could start receiving the first payments at the end of the week of Aug. 30 or the beginning of the week of Sept. 6, once the application is approved.
“DEED has already completed all the necessary work to ensure we can make payments as soon as we get funding transferred from the federal government,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a statement. “We know Minnesotans are anxious to receive these supplemental payments, and we are doing all we can to make that happen as quickly as possible.”
People who are currently receiving unemployment benefits don't need to anything other than complete the weekly benefits request to receive the additional $300 a week. DEED estimates the program will last 5-8 weeks.
FEMA is authorized to spend $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund for the Lost Wages Assistance program.
“The Lost Wages Assistance program provides much-needed emergency help, but it is not part of a comprehensive package to help workers and businesses struggling as the pandemic continues,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement. “We hope that our federal partners will be able to come together to provide the well-planned and thorough relief Minnesotans and other Americans need.”
More information about the Lost Wages Assistance program can be found online here.