Gov. Doug Burgum today expressed his gratitude after the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved North Dakota’s participation in the Lost Wages Assistance program created by President Donald Trump to ease the economic burden for those who have lost their employment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Grant funding from FEMA will allow Job Service North Dakota to provide an additional $300 per week on top of claimants’ regular weekly unemployment benefit if they are unemployed due to COVID-19. The payments will be made retroactively to claimants who were eligible during the three weeks ending Aug. 1, 8 and 15.
“We appreciate FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor and the Trump administration approving North Dakota’s participation in this program, which will provide immediate relief to North Dakotans whose livelihoods were directly impacted by this global pandemic,” Burgum said.
On Aug. 8, President Donald Trump authorized FEMA to spend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide supplemental unemployment benefits through the Lost Wages Assistance program. Job Service North Dakota submitted the state’s application to FEMA last week to participate in the program.
Job Service anticipates distributing the Lost Wages Assistance payments by mid-September.
The Lost Wages Assistance program limits eligibility only to those claimants who are unemployed specifically due to the pandemic and whose weekly benefit amount is $100 or more. Based on those limitations and the amount of funding available nationwide, Job Service estimates that approximately 17,600 claimants in North Dakota – about 41% of the current active claimant base – will receive the $300 benefit for three weeks. Total payments are estimated to be $14.7 million.
To be eligible for Lost Wages Assistance, workers must self-certify that they were unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initial unemployment insurance claims process or their required weekly recertifications. North Dakota also reinstated its work registration and search requirements at the end of July for those seeking unemployment, after having suspended them in March when the pandemic hit North Dakota.