The New York State Department of Labor today announced that payments for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, which provides an additional $300 in weekly benefits to unemployed New Yorkers, will begin next week. Up to 2.4 million New Yorkers are eligible for the program, including 435,000 who must submit an additional certification to qualify.
During the pandemic emergency, New York State has paid $43.7 billion in unemployment benefits to 3.5 million New Yorkers, representing over 20 typical years’ worth of benefits paid in just six months.
“Throughout this crisis, states’ unemployment systems have been pushed to the limit and constantly-changing federal guidance — including this haphazard Presidential executive order — have only delayed our efforts to get benefits to New Yorkers in need. But we have worked day and night to stand up this program, and millions of New Yorkers will see payments next week,” Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “We are emailing all New Yorkers who are receiving benefits to inform them of their status and, if needed, provide information about certifying for the Lost Wages Assistance program. All New Yorkers should keep an eye out for these messages and, if an additional certification is required, respond immediately.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released funding for the first three weeks of LWA benefits to New York State, covering the benefit weeks ending August 2nd, August 9th, and August 16th. The DOL estimates that up to 2.4 million New Yorkers may be eligible for the benefits from those weeks, including recipients of both traditional unemployment insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Approximately 2 million New Yorkers are pre-qualified and will receive payments starting next week. The remainder — roughly 435,000 New Yorkers — must submit an additional certification to qualify.
Of the estimated 2.4 million New Yorkers who may be eligible:
Approximately 2 million are already qualified for the LWA program because they indicated on their initial benefit application that their unemployment was connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. These claimants:
- Do not need to take any further action;
- Will receive LWA payments starting next week; and
- Will receive an email and text message from DOL informing them they have pre-qualified for LWA.
Roughly 435,000 need to submit an additional certification confirming that their unemployment is related to COVID-19 to qualify for LWA benefits, as required by the federal government. These claimants:
- Can certify starting Friday, September 11th either online or via phone:
- Online: claimants will receive a secure DocuSign email from the DOL on September 11th, with a link to certify for LWA benefits
- Phone:claimants can call 833-491-0632 to certify via an automated phone system
- Will receive payments starting next week if their certification is submitted by 5pm on September 15th — after that, payments will be released on a rolling basis.
Eligible New Yorkers will receive LWA payments of $300 per week for the weeks ending August 2nd, 9th, and 16th. Under federal rules, New York State may be eligible for additional weeks of LWA funding.
According to FEMA, funding for the LWA program will continue until any of the following occur:
1. The federal Disaster Relief Fund balance falls below $25 billion
2. The $44 billion set aside for the LWA program is depleted;
3. Congress enacts a replacement unemployment relief program; OR
4. If none of the above scenarios occur before December 27, 2020, funding will terminate on that date.