Philly’s coronavirus response

PA unemployment update: Extra $300 Lost Wages Assistance to be paid in one lump sum

If you are eligible and haven’t yet applied, do that ASAP.

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A weekly $300 boost for some Pennsylvanians collecting unemployment because of COVID-related issues will go out in one lump sum for the five weeks between Aug. 1 and Sept. 5, according to the Pa. Department of Labor and Industry.

The earliest eligible people will receive their payment is Sept. 14, per L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak, and some will receive it later. That remains true even though the federal government has officially declared an end to the program.

“Although the LWA program has ended, L&I will continue paying eligible claimants retroactively for claim weeks between August 1 and September 5,” Oleksiak said in a Sept. 10 statement in which he urged all eligible people to apply ASAP.

Most people who are eligible will have to fill out a short application, but a few will get it automatically. Applications opened Sept. 6.

The extra funds were distributed as a stop-gap replacement for the expired $600 CARES Act assistance benefits. Called Lost Wages Assistance (LWA), the new $44 billion program was funded by FEMA, with $1.5 billion going to Pa.

More than 600k Pennsylvanians are currently collecting unemployment. That’s nearly one out of every 20 residents, and includes about 100k people in Philadelphia. The commonwealth has distributed more than $25 billion in unemployment compensation since mid-March. About $15 billion of that was the $600 weekly CARES Act addition.

LWA came about after Congress was unable to agree on a replacement. Announced at the beginning of August by President Donald Trump, the program was originally touted as a $400-per-week initiative. He later called on states to supplement a quarter of that. Pa., like most other states with pandemic-strained budgets, opted to apply its $100 contribution to normal unemployment payouts.

If you’re wondering whether you’re eligible to collect the additional $300 each week, how to apply and when it will come, here’s what you should know.

Who’s eligible for Lost Wages Assistance?

Anyone collecting at least $100 per week in regular unemployment compensation in Pa. is eligible for the $300 Lost Wages Assistance support.

That applies for recipients of any of these state programs:

  • Regular Unemployment Compensation (UC)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC, for folks whose regular UC would have already run out)
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA, for gig workers or others not usually eligible for benefits)
  • Extended Benefits (EB)
  • Short-Time Compensation (STC) or Shared Work
  • Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)

How do I apply for LWA?

Most people will need to visit www.uc.pa.gov/cert to certify your unemployment is related to COVID disruptions.

Once there, log in using your PIN as if you’re filing a biweekly claim, choose “Complete LWA Certification,” and fill out the form. You’ll only need to do this once, per L&I.

However, if you’re already getting PUA or Shared Work benefits, you don’t have to apply at all — the extra benefits should automatically start showing up as soon as Sept. 14. (Shared Work employers do have to provide certification.)

When will LWA benefits be distributed?

Monday, Sept. 14, is the earliest possible date Pennsylvanians who apply and qualify for the benefits will receive them, according to the state.

Payments will be in one lump sum, and will be retroactive, covering eligible weeks including:

  • Aug. 1
  • Aug. 8
  • Aug. 15
  • Aug. 22
  • Aug. 29
  • Sept. 5

What if I’m still waiting on August benefits?

If you’re still waiting on some benefits from August, Secretary Oleksiak said the LWA payment will be sent after those go out, lagging by a week. That’s assuming you have already applied and are approved.

Want some more? Explore other Philly’s coronavirus response stories.

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Employment