An unemployment benefit that will provide an additional $300 a week to those out of work due to COVID-19 has gained approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved New Jersey for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program, according to a press release from the agency on Friday.
The agency plans to work with Gov. Phil Murphy to implement a system to make the funding, which will be on top of regular unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed due to the virus.
Unlike the $600 a week supplemental payment that expired in July, those who were unemployed before COVID-19 are not eligible for the $300 a week benefit. Those who receive less than $100 a week in unemployment are also not eligible.
New Jersey’s application will cover three weeks: Aug. 1, 8 and 15. Those who are eligible for the program would most likely see one check of $900 for those weeks in their bank accounts.
Beyond those three weeks of retroactive pay, it’s unclear how long the program will actually last. The FEMA grant is capped at $44 billion. State Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo said while he does not know how long it will last, the “general consensus is between seven and nine” weeks. But the program would also end if FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund balance drops below $25 billion
Approximately 800,000 unemployed workers may not see the first check until October, said Asaro-Angelo last month.
“Because this is an entirely new program … for which we cannot use any of our current unemployment trust fund money, accounts, staff or infrastructure, it will not be easy or quick to get this additional money into the pockets of those who need it the most,” Asaro-Angelo said.
Stephanie Noda is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.