Louisiana Workforce Commission to extend Lost Wages Assistance to up to 20,000 unemployed residents

Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 4:24 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Workforce Commission will reach out to 20,000 hardworking Louisianans who may not have qualified for federal Lost Wage Assistance. Individuals who may not have indicated that their unemployment was directly related to COVID-19 will be allowed to update their status. This update could allow up to 20,000 people, whose weekly benefit amount exceeds $100.00 to take advantage of new funding made available through President Trump’s Executive order.

On Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the state approximately $375 million in federal disaster assistance, which will supplement unemployed workers in Louisiana for their lost wages due to COVID-19.

Eligible workers will receive $300.00 in additional weekly benefits. Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) Secretary Ava Dejoie explained that while not all people who currently receive a weekly unemployment benefit will be eligible for the additional funding, nearly 420,000 people will be eligible for the benefit. The President’s Executive order provided that only claimants who receive more than $100.00 in weekly benefits and indicated that their employment was impacted by COVID-19 will qualify for the additional federal funding.

Louisiana chose Option 2 under the President’s Executive order because the state could leverage its current unemployment insurance payment to obtain the funding for the additional $300 benefit. In contrast, under Option 1, the State of Louisiana would have to pay an additional $48 million per week in Unemployment Insurance payments (out the UI trust fund) on top of what is currently being paid to existing claimants.

Since March of this year, the Louisiana Workforce Commission has paid $5.5 billion in unemployment benefits to over 1.2 million Louisiana citizens as of August 18, 2020. This dollar amount also reflects nearly 640,000 in distinct claims paid.

The Louisiana Workforce Commission anticipates that the benefits will likely be distributed within the next week. The state continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to make payments to those who currently qualify as soon as possible. Payments will be retroactive to August 1, 2020.

Louisiana is one of seven states to have been awarded unemployment assistance from FEMA. LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said her agency will marshal all of its resources to help as many people as it can, as quickly as it can. “I am very proud that we were among the first two states to administer Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and among the first states to submit an application for lost wage assistance. As always, we will continue to work diligently for the people of Louisiana.”

The LWC will message claimants directly and provide additional details as they become available. LWC anticipates that processing will begin no later than Friday, August 28, 2020.

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