Governor Laura Kelly today announced her administration’s grant application for FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance program (LWA) received federal approval and an award of $63 million to assist Kansans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I appreciate the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its quick response to my administration’s application, and for making these funds available to those who need them throughout our state and nation,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We will work to distribute these dollars as quickly and efficiently as possible to keep Kansas families in their homes and food on their tables. However, it is still critically important for Congress to create a coherent strategy and act on a long-term solution for those who have found themselves unable to work due to the pandemic’s impact on our economy.”
“The LWA program’s $63 million will deliver much needed benefits to Kansans who are out of work,” Acting Secretary of Labor Ryan Wright said. “However, this program is not a permanent solution, and during these difficult times we implore Congress to come together and act to fund permanent unemployment solutions for all individuals and families in need across the country.”
The program is limited in scope and, due to federal restrictions, will only be available to those who are receiving at least $100 in unemployment benefits. The implementation of the LWA program will take several weeks to execute, and the Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) estimates that claimants will begin receiving benefits no sooner than late September.
Unlike the $600 a week Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that expired in July, a claimant must self-certify her or his unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. For those who are eligible, payments will be retroactive to the week ending Aug. 1, and will remain in effect until FEMA terminates the program.
On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide lost wage assistance to Americans receiving unemployment benefits.
Governor Kelly proposed the $400 option for LWA as a way to get additional money into the hands of unemployed Kansans. On Sept. 2, the SPARK Taskforce agreed to the proposal and to spending $63 million in CARES Act funds to assist Kansans. On Sept. 3, legislative leaders on the State Finance Council (SFC) rejected the proposal. In response, Kelly ordered KDOL to apply for the $300 option. The reduced amount will not require SPARK or SFC approval to implement.
Since March 15, KDOL has paid out more than two million weekly claims totaling over $1.8 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs. For more information, or to apply for unemployment benefits, go to www.GetKansasBenefits.gov.