TN requests federal funds to pay additional $300 unemployment benefit

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Tuesday, Tennessee officials said the state applied for the Lost Wages Assistance Grant which will pay an additional $300 in unemployment benefits.

The state applying to FEMA to receive grant funding to pay an additional weekly unemployment benefit to those who are eligible for the Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance Program (LWA).

If approved, this grant will fund a $300 weekly payment in addition to the Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits payments currently available to unemployed Tennessee workers.

The grant does require claimants to receive at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits each week to be eligible for the new LWA payment.

This grant will allow the state to maintain its Coronavirus Relief Fund initiatives while more than doubling the state’s maximum benefit amount which is $275.

With this grant the new maximum will be $575 per week, before federal withholding taxes.

The LWA payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020; eligible claimants who are currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the state will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment.

Unlike the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC) that ended in July, LWA is a grant with a finite amount of funding. When the federal program exhausts its grant funding, it will no longer have the resources to provide LWA payments and the program will end at that time. If the federal program does not exhaust the LWA grant funding, payments will end in Tennessee on Saturday, December 26, 2020.

In anticipation of FEMA approval, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has already begun working with its vendor to build a new program within the unemployment computer system to implement and pay LWA benefits. In conjunction with guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor concerning program administration, the state will work diligently to complete this process as quickly as possible.

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