The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) announced today that the agency issued a total of $64M in Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments to Montanans impacted by COVID-19 at the completion of the program.
“We know that this funding made a difference for jobless Montanans and those working reduced hours due to the ongoing pandemic,” Acting Commissioner Brenda Nordlund said.
Montana was among the first states in the U.S. to begin issuing the LWA supplemental payments and one of four states to pay out the maximum $400 weekly amount to Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded $300 of the weekly benefit, and Montana contributed another $100 from its CARES Act relief funds. DLI issued a total of $48M in federal funding from FEMA, and another $16M in state dollars.
A Presidential Memorandum established Lost Wages Assistance after Congress did not reauthorize the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an extra $600 weekly benefit to eligible UI claimants. The duration of the LWA program was dependent on the terms of the Memorandum.
Montana received six weeks of funding from FEMA for the UI benefit weeks ending August 1 through September 5. As of September 25, 2020, DLI has completed all possible disbursements to claimants using the funds provided under this program.
Other federal UI expansions, passed under the CARES Act, do not expire until December 26, 2020. This includes Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits to persons who exhaust traditional benefits, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides up to 46 weeks of benefits to those who are self-employed and some others who have not traditionally qualified for state benefits. Also, Montana is offering an additional 13 weeks of Extended Benefits for eligible individuals who have exhausted both their regular UI benefits and PEUC benefits.
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.