The Illinois Department of Employment Security today announced it has submitted its application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the new federal Lost Wage Assistance funds. Eligible Illinoisans will be able to access these funds, despite uncertainty about how many weeks workers might receive payments.
Governor J.B. Pritzker expressed his concerns and criticisms of the federal government in a press release about the new LWA funds saying that it cuts off low income workers, creates competition among the states for federal dollars, and he says it will cause more confusion among the unemployed. Pritzker went on to say that he’s glad that some workers will get temporary relief from the $300 benefit.
Under the new federal program, certain individuals unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to receive an additional $300 per week to their weekly benefit amount. Funds for this new program are only made available through a diversion of FEMA disaster relief funding. According to the press release, due to competition of dollars by the states and the funding mechanism for FEMA, the Pritzker Administration believes that the funding for the program will last just short of one month despite the federal government saying the funds are available until December 27th. LWA is a completely separate federal program from that of the previous unemployment supplemental Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.
LWA only allows claimants earning a minimum $100 weekly benefit to receive the additional $300 to their benefit payments. The Pritzker Administration estimates that the decrease in eligibility is expected to also decrease economic activity by 20%. President Donald Trump put the new program in place by executive order on August 8th after talks on a new COVID-19 stimulus bill broke down in Congress.