The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development submitted an application yesterday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Lost Wages Supplemental Assistance (LWA), which provides limited additional benefits to many of the state’s unemployed workers.LWA allows for temporary supplemental financial support to those whose jobs or wages have been adversely affected by COVID-19. LWA provides up to $300 per week to eligible individuals, in addition to the weekly benefit amount they receive from other unemployment compensation programs.In New Jersey, the first tranche of the federal grant would provide up to $300 per week to claimants collecting unemployment for the weeks of Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. Only people whose unemployment is COVID-related are eligible, under terms of the memorandum the President issued on Aug. 8. Additionally, those receiving less than $100 in weekly unemployment benefits are excluded from the supplemental benefit.

“We are looking into every option to ensure that every single penny will be in pockets of countless New Jersey families seeking benefits,” said Governor Murphy. “However, even as we do this, we still need the federal government to reauthorize the $600 federal unemployment benefit to ensure that we provide the financial security desperately needed during this pandemic.”

“We will always do whatever we can to get more money into the pockets of our unemployed workers,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “But, it’s important to note that this is not an extension of the successful federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an extra $600 to everyone receiving unemployment. LWA will end as soon as the funds dry up, it excludes some of our lowest-wage earners and part-time workers, and, perhaps most importantly, adds another layer of red tape that workers in need have to cut through.”

Of the states that have applied, 93 percent have sought grants at the $300 level, which the federal government pays, rather than kick in an extra $100, which would have cost New Jersey approximately $80 million a week.

As of Tuesday, FEMA had approved 28 states’ applications for $300 payments and 2 states’ applications for $400 payments. One state, South Dakota, has declined to participate.

This new program must be created from scratch, and run separately from New Jersey’s existing state and federal unemployment programs. This is not something New Jersey or any state will be able to do quickly or easily.

“This is not the answer for unemployed workers around the country who have been hit hard and fast by COVID-19. It is our hope that Congress extends the $600 supplement so that workers, especially those in high cost-of-living states like ours, can keep food on the table and a roof over their heads until we can get beyond COVID and they can get back on their feet,” Asaro-Angelo said.

The FEMA grant has a spending cap of $44 billion. Once the allocation is exhausted, benefits will end. Thus, states must reapply after the first three weeks, giving FEMA the opportunity to calculate the program’s remaining balance after the first round of grants. The program also would be halted if  FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund balance drops below $25 billion.


6 responses to “NJ Applies for Lost Wages Assistance Funds for Unemployed”

  1. Anne L. says:

    Ironic that the State of NJ claims they are “looking into every option to ensure that every single penny will be in pockets of countless New Jersey families seeking benefits”. The ill conceived and errant action of completely shutting down the State’s economy for months on end has created a tragic and unnecessary mess, forever negatively impacting livelihoods of countless many NJ residents and businesses and likely the health of NJ’s economy for the foreseeable future.

    Most certainly, we must acknowledge the geriatric population and younger individuals with compromised health issues are at extreme risk. Still, a majority of the population will be mildly affected by the the virus if at all. Most would present with symptoms similar to the common cold or influenza, if any.

    In reality, there is nothing that State or Federal governments can do to keep the population safe from corona virus, not even a vaccine if developed will do that. Wouldn’t reopening businesses in NJ and getting folks back to work be the better course of action instead of relying on government subsidy programs with limited amounts of temporary funding? Once stay at home orders are lifted, whenever that may be, exactly how many NJ businesses will be still be viable and able to return their employees to the workforce remains unclear unanswerable. Desperately needed financial security for the unemployed may well significantly worsen before it gets better if NJ continues on the current path.

  2. J. Mary Reyes says:

    As of yesterday New Jersey had not applkied only one of a few states that have not applied. Why did it take till today to apply. Some of the states are already putting out the payments.
    From the last report I saw there were only 3 patients on Ventilators and no deaths since 8/21, Governor Murphy are you waiting until you have 0 Covid cases to prove what a good job you did? All those older people that you put in homes and died won’t come back.

  3. Nicky says:

    I am happy to hear the application has been submitted but why did it take so long to begin the process. At least 30 states had applied and been approved with additional applications pending. Some states have begun making payments and others will shortly. Why will NJ unemployed workers have to wait until October to receive these benefits. Will this delay be a problem when FEMA funds run out?

  4. Michele says:

    I agree with all of the above comments. NJ needs to reopen now. The benefit of getting NJ back to work out weighs the risk. The benefit has outweighed the risk for many weeks now. I also want to know what COVID numbers Govenor Murphy wants to be at to be able to reopen.

  5. Ralph & Adeline Marano says:

    I agree with all of these comments and we need to reopen NJ now and not have all these people looking for handouts from Government.
    Even the businesses are still suffering because of our Governor dragging his feet and getting us opened up.