August 27, 2020
Out-of-work New Jersey residents soon could be eligible to receive an additional $300 per week through the Lost Wages Supplemental Assistance federal unemployment program.
The funds, administered by FEMA, would provide temporary supplemental financial support to residents who have lost jobs or wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey applied to be part of the program on Wednesday.
Only those who lost work because of the coronavirus health crisis and are receiving more than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits through Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are eligible.
The $300 would be paid in addition to one's weekly unemployment benefit and the supplemental cash would be retroactive to Aug. 1.
New Jersey officials said the new program will take several weeks to implement after the state is accepted into the program because the Lost Wages Supplemental Assistance program needs to operate separately from other federal and state unemployment programs.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order earlier in August after the $600 benefit that was part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program expired. That unemployment program was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
"We are looking into every option to ensure that every single penny will be in the pockets of countless New Jersey families seeking benefits," Murphy said. "However, even as we do this, we still need the federal government to reauthorize the $600 federal unemployment benefit to ensure that we provide the financial security desperately needed during this pandemic."
The FEMA program has a spending cap of $44 billion. Once the money runs out, the extra benefits will end. The program would also be stopped if the agency's Disaster Relief Fund balance dips below $25 billion.
After the first three weeks of benefits, states must reapply in order for FEMA to recalculate how much grant funding is still available.
FEMA has approved 30 states for the grant, and Pennsylvania is already among them.