The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) announced today it has applied for the Lost Wages Assistance Payments grant through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
Upon approval, this grant will allow DLI to provide an additional $400 per week in assistance payment to those receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits due to COVID-related impacts. FEMA disaster relief funds will cover $300 of the new weekly payment and the other $100 will come from Montana’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. Lost Wage Assistance was established after Congress did not reauthorize the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an extra $600 payment to eligible UI claimants.
“DLI will work as quickly as possible once our application is approved to distribute the extra payments to Montanans,” Acting DLI Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said. “The federal government is requiring states to program a new system, and DLI is already implementing the necessary changes to get this money out the door.”
To qualify for this additional funding, claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The first week for which the Lost Wages Assistance payment will be available is UI benefit week ending August 1. DLI will provide retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward. The duration of payment is dependent on the terms of the President’s Memorandum. The payment could end in a matter of weeks, if FEMA funding is exhausted or the federal government enacts new law, similar to the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, to supplant the Lost Wages Assistance payment. It will end no later than December 27, 2020.
DLI continues to encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI to file a claim online at MontanaWorks.gov, or at mtpua.mt.gov for those that fall under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance eligibility guidelines. Those with technical, eligibility, or benefits questions are encouraged to view the COVID-19 resource website at dli.mt.gov/covid-19. A variety of information for both Montana workers and employers is available, and resources to help claimants navigate the unemployment process.