Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced Florida is now technologically able to begin paying the Federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program benefits to eligible Floridians.
The LWA program will offer an additional $300 every week for eligible Floridians who are currently receiving unemployment benefits.
To qualify for the federal boost, the claimant must be currently receiving at least $100 weekly in an approved Reemployment Assistance program. Claimants must also be able to certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed because of COVID-19. Eligible Floridians will receive the additional dollars without any secondary applications, similar to the COVID-19 stimulus checks.
The announcement said the benefits would be retroactive to Aug. 1. The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will pay out for weeks ending that day, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15.
“We thank President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for providing this relief to Floridians during this time of need,” DeSantis said in a news release. “These additional funds will provide critical support to Florida’s unemployed workforce due to COVID-19.”
The extra funding for Florida’s unemployed, however, will likely be short-lived because Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief money funds the program. Both FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor forecast the funding to last roughly three weeks after a state’s application is approved. What’s more, the agencies warn that funding could dry up at any time.
The program will be administered similar to an earlier federal assistance program providing $600 per week that expired in July, and unemployment applicants will not need to file additional paperwork, the Governor’s Office said.
Meanwhile, the number of new Floridians seeking unemployment help has continued to decline in recent weeks.
According to DEO data through Tuesday, there are about 2.1 million Floridians now eligible for state reemployment assistance, federal pandemic emergency unemployment assistance or federal pandemic unemployment assistance, nearly 2 million of whom have been paid. Another 672,339 people are not eligible for state or federal reemployment assistance.
In all, $15.8 billion has been paid out to people who’ve filed unemployment claims since the beginning of the pandemic in Florida. Out of that figure, $10.4 billion came from federal pandemic unemployment compensation or LWA. Another $656.7 million has come from federal pandemic unemployment assistance and $755.4 million has been drawn from federal pandemic emergency unemployment compensation.
More information is available online.