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More money on the way to jobless; Nevada approved for Lost Wages Assistance program

Updated September 11, 2020 - 6:43 pm

Tens of thousands of jobless Nevadans are set to receive a $300-a-week federal supplement.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Nevada’s application Friday evening for $224 million to cover at least three weeks of supplemental benefits after a $600 weekly unemployment benefits lapsed in July. And the agency will apply for an additional three weeks.

“We are pleased that we are able to move forward in providing this additional benefit to eligible Nevadans,” said Elisa Cafferata, the acting director at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, in a statement.

Under the Lost Wages Assistance program, state unemployment agencies receive federal funds to pay unemployed workers an extra $300 a week in benefits through a $44 billion grant agreement with FEMA.

Not everyone qualifies for the benefit, though. Claimants who are eligible are those whose weekly benefit amount is at least $100.

The agency said in anticipation of the state’s approval, DETR has been working on technology upgrades with its system to accommodate the LWA program.

DETR has said it could take up to six weeks before eligible claimants see payments after the state wins approval.

That isn’t comforting for some Nevadans who are stuck in the backlog. DETR leaders say they’re attempting to break through the morass with new technology tools and more manpower.

President Donald Trump created the $44 billion LWA program through an Aug. 8 executive action as a stopgap measure as Congress remains deadlocked on a new coronavirus relief package.

Nevada’s approval comes after FEMA announced Thursday it would extend its $300-a-week payment to “for a full six weeks,” based on U.S. Department of Labor projections and current state spending rates. States were initially allowed three weeks’ worth of benefits upon approval, and the funds are retroactive to Aug. 1.

“Regardless of where the states and territories are in their process to receive and distribute the FEMA funding, FEMA will fund six weeks in $300 supplemental unemployment benefits to every state and territory that has applied for this assistance by September 10,” a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement to the Review-Journal.

The Silver State was the last state to apply for the first-come, first-serve Lost Wages Assistance program. Nevada is the 49th state to get approval by FEMA.

Almost every state, plus Guam and Washington, D.C., applied and received approved from FEMA. South Dakota declined to apply for the aid. To date, $30 billion of the $44 billion available has been distributed.

DETR applied for the LWA program Sept. 2.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a tweet Friday evening he looks forward to DETR implementing the new program “as fast as possible to connect eligible Nevadans to these benefits.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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