From staff reports

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state of Tennessee’s grant application to receive funding to pay the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment benefit, in addition to current benefits.

In conjunction with guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor concerning program administration, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), and its unemployment computer system vendor, are currently building the new program that will pay the LWA benefit.

Work on the latest federal unemployment program started during the application process and that proactive move will speed up the implementation of LWA in Tennessee. At this time, there is no definitive start date as to when the state will begin dispersing the additional weekly benefit. The department will provide updates on LWA payments as new information becomes available.

TDLWD will add the $300 to current Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits payments.

The state’s maximum unemployment benefit is $275. When combined with the new program, the maximum possible benefit in Tennessee will be $575 per week, before federal withholding taxes.

The grant requires claimants to receive at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits each week to be eligible for the new LWA payment.

The LWA payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2020. Eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the state will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment.

Unlike the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC) that ended in July, LWA is paid for through a grant with a specific amount of funding. It is important to note when the federal program exhausts its grant funding, it will no longer have the resources to provide LWA payments and the program will end at that time. If the federal program does not exhaust the LWA grant funding, payments will end in Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020.

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