State’s unemployed to get additional benefits

Mississippi residents on the unemployment rolls got a little good news this week when it was learned their unemployment benefits may be bolstered by an additional $300 a week.

President Donald Trump earlier this month signed an order that would offer the additional benefits from what is called the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.  

Up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund is being made available to states that apply for the extra jobless benefits.  

Mississippi officials did not immediately say they would be part of the program, but on Thursday, Aug. 20, Gov. Tate Reeves announced the money would be applied for, and he expected approval to be given.  

Once the application is approved, the state Department of Employment Security (DE S) would implement the program and the funds would be available within 3-4 weeks.  

Those eligible for the funds would be unemployed Mississippians whose benefits are $100 or more a week and the benefits would be backdated to Aug. 1 for those currently unemployed.  

The federal $600 a week in jobless assistance earlier applied to benefits ended at the end of July. 

In issuing the executive order with Congress not agreeing on a new stimulus program on Aug, 8, President Trump extended the LWA program at a weekly $300 and urged states to kick in an additional $100 in weekly benefits.  

Mississippi officials did not initially follow through on the Presidential request and in announcing the application for federal help on Thursday, Reeves said the state cannot afford to pay the additional funds the President had asked the states to provide. The requirement of current benefits of at least $100 a week will amount to the state match, said Reeves.  

The limits on the latest supplement offering are that it would end on Dec. 27, or when the Disaster Relief Fund reaches $25 billion, or when the $44 billion designated for the program is used up, or when state funds have all been used, whichever comes first.  

No separate applications will be required and DES will include the funding in the same way it already provides unemployment benefits.

The money will be subject to federal and state income taxes.  

More information is available from FEMA and the state Department of Employment Security.

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