By Dave Williams
ATLANTA – Unemployed Georgians will soon begin receiving enhanced federal unemployment benefits that were cut off at the end of last month when the program expired, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday.
The $300 weekly supplements will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Lost Wages Assistance Program, a new grant initiative President Donald Trump announced after Democrats and Republicans in Congress couldn’t reach agreement on a new coronavirus relief package.
Democrats pushed to renew the unemployment benefits program at the full $600 per week jobless Americans were receiving before the program expired. Republicans sought a lesser amount after some business owners complained they were having a hard time getting their unemployed workers to return because they were receiving more money from unemployment.
“This news is truly life-changing for hardworking Georgians in every part of our state,” Kemp said. “We deeply appreciate the Trump administration’s leadership to help us provide timely unemployment assistance to families weathering the economic impact of this pandemic.”
Trump approved up to $44 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund early this month to provide financial assistance to Americans who have lost wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The benefit will be limited to three weeks, with the availability of additional benefits depending on the availability of remaining FEMA funds. Critics of the president’s plan have argued the money should not be taken from FEMA at the height of hurricane season.
States will be required to request additional disbursements weekly after the introductory three-week period of benefits are distributed.
“The Georgia Department of Labor will deliver a system meeting the new FEMA guidelines to process these weekly supplements as quickly as possible,” state Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said. “We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor, FEMA, and Governor Kemp’s office to provide financial support for Georgians during this pandemic.”
The labor department anticipates programming to begin this week and implementation to be completed within three to four weeks.
Eligibility for the new program is based upon an individual’s weekly benefit determination – an amount calculated by a claimant’s reported wages. Individuals must have received a weekly benefit of at least $100 to be eligible.
Also, the recipient must be unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
Individuals do not need to call or apply separately for this benefit. Information on the new program can be found on the agency’s web page at www.gdol.ga.us.