Governor Lamont Announces Executive Order Expanding Federal Lost Wages Assistance for Low-Wage Unemployed Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he plans to sign an executive order that expands eligibility to the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program for Connecticut residents who did not initially qualify for the program. Due to a federal rule requiring claimants receive at least $100 per week in unemployment benefits to receive the additional LWA funding, approximately 38,000 residents were excluded from the program when it ran over six weeks late last summer. Governor Lamont’s executive order will retroactively and temporarily increase weekly unemployment benefits to $100 for most of these 38,000 residents, allowing them to qualify for the program.
“This executive order gets federal funding in the hands of residents who need it and into our economy,” Governor Lamont said. “Thanks to the hard work of our Connecticut Department of Labor, the average resident newly eligible for six weeks of Lost Wages Assistance will receive more than $2,000 that they can spend to support themselves, their family, and their community. What a difference that will make to those most in need of some good news this holiday season. To date, Connecticut has disbursed more than $5.6 billion in unemployment funding and another $327 million in Lost Wages Assistance to workers. Those numbers demonstrate just how important these programs are to residents. I thank our Congressional delegation for their hard work to pass another COVID relief bill that includes enhanced unemployment benefits. I implore Senator Mitch McConnell to stop playing political games, come to the table, and negotiate an agreement that supports our fellow citizens, who through no fault of their own now find themselves out of work during this global pandemic.”
LWA was in effect from July 26 through September 5 and offered $300 in additional weekly funding to claimants who were unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who had a minimum weekly benefit of $100 or more. Expanding access to the program will cost the UI Trust Fund an average of $43 per week per claimant. That “plus up” from the state will bring in approximately $55 million in Lost Wages Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency – a seven to one federal match. That money is expected to generate $115 million of economic activity and provide small businesses across the state with a much-needed boost in consumer spending.
“This is an important and timely benefit for tens of thousands of residents trying to make ends meet during the pandemic, many of whom are low-wage workers whose weekly benefits didn’t qualify them for the original Lost Wages Assistance program,” Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said. “We are urging claimants who did not receive LWA over the summer to check their mail and email for instructions and apply. I applaud Governor Lamont for bringing relief to so many and ensuring Connecticut expanded the reach of this program.”
In order to receive the LWA benefits, claimants must certify that they were unemployed due to COVID for the weeks covered by Lost Wages Assistance. They will receive information and instructions by mail and email directly from the Connecticut Department of Labor beginning the week of December 7, 2020. LWA benefits and the supplemental state payments are taxable income.
For example, if a claimant has a weekly benefit amount of $60, they will receive six payments of $40 to their account. They do not have to apply for these funds. That “plus up” will allow them to then qualify for the LWA program. They must certify that they were unemployed for any (or all) of the six weeks of the Lost Wages Assistance program. A few days after they complete the certification, they will see up to six additional deposits (one per eligible week), each for $300, in their account.
The executive order will also relieve reimbursing employers from charges for the additional funds needed to get claimants to the $100 threshold. Contributing employers have already been relieved of charges under Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7W.
The Connecticut Department of Labor has information and instructions on its federal supplements webpage and will notify customers directly through email and mail. The agency reminds customers that as part of fraud prevention practices, it will never ask for personal identifying information like username, password, or Social Security number in an email. Additionally, the state agency does not send any link by email that requires a username or password. Claimants are urged to call the agency’s contact center with any questions.
It is anticipated that Governor Lamont will sign the executive order later this evening. The order will be published on the governor’s website when it has been finalized.