President Trump announced the creation of the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program on August 8, extending the increased unemployment benefit amount for American workers. The CARES Act had previously created a $600 weekly federal employment benefit; however, it expired at the end of July.
According to President Trump’s original memorandum, the LWA would direct up to $44 billion dollars to supplement state unemployment benefits. Those eligible for unemployment payments would receive an estimated $400 weekly; $300 being paid by the federal government and $100 being paid by individual state governments.
The U.S. Department of Labor issued a clarification to state workforce agencies on August 12 in Program Letter No. 27-20. That program letter noted that should states not wish to provide the full benefit to claimants, claimants would receive only the federal portion, or $300 per week. The LWA is payable to eligible claimants retroactive to August 1.
The LWA program will provide federal funds for this purpose through weeks of employment ending no later than December 27, 2020. The program may terminate earlier if funds designated for this program are exhausted or drop beneath certain thresholds. It may also terminate if legislation is enacted by Congress and signed by the President providing supplemented federal unemployment compensation.