The federal government has approved D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s application for a new unemployment benefits program that will allow the city to offer $300 per week of additional compensation to eligible recipients.
On Tuesday, Bowser announced the approval of the District’s participation in the Lost Wages Assistance program, created to replace the defunct Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which had provided a $600 weekly benefit for the unemployed before expiring in July.
“We know workers continue to struggle during this pandemic, and we are committed to providing them with the maximum benefit they deserve so they can care for themselves and their families,” Bowser said in a statement.
“This lost wages assistance is also being provided through funds from FEMA,” Bowser said at a news conference Wednesday. “We still, however, urge our federal partners to restore the $600 per week unemployment benefit as we continue to combat the effects of the coronavirus.”
The LWA program offers $300 per week to eligible unemployment recipients. To qualify, applicants must already be receiving at least $100 per week from an approved unemployment compensation program and must be able to prove financial burden or lack of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Payments would be retroactive to Aug. 1, and recipients are expected to receive their first payment in early October. More information on unemployment compensation can be found on the District government’s COVID-19 web portal.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Labor, who will financially back the LWA, requested the District only submit an application for the initial three weeks of the program and one additional week of payments. Funding after that period must be approved on a weekly basis until the grant period ends on Dec. 27.
Benefit funding could be terminated at any time before Dec. 27, the D.C. government said in a news release, if FEMA’s disaster relief coffers are exhausted or Congress enacts new laws.
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