Vermonters who have filed for unemployment could expect to see an extra $300 added to their weekly benefits in the near future.
On Saturday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved Vermont for a grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program, allowing the state to provide $300 per week, in addition to the state’s regular benefits, to residents who have been unemployed due to COVID-19.
A news release from the federal agency added that FEMA will work with Gov. Phil Scott to develop a system that would make this funding available to Vermont residents.
Is this $300 the federal contribution to the $400 that Trump signed off on in his executive order?
President Trump signed an executive action Aug. 8 calling for $400 in weekly unemployment benefits to replace the $600 federal supplement that expired in late July. Unlike the initial $600 payment, however, states would be required to pay quarter of the $400, or $100, to each unemployed individual.
The order made available $44 billion in disaster relief funding from FEMA to be administered to states through their own unemployment programs to cover lost wages due to the pandemic.
Following the president’s announcement, Gov. Scott said that his office was reviewing the executive order and working on a way to fund the extra benefits.
“We are assessing that as we speak and want to implement that just as quick as possible just as a stop gap measure until Congress takes action,” Scott said in a news conference on Aug. 11.
In a release sent Monday afternoon, Scott announced an initial grant of $35.8 million from FEMA to distribute among Vermont unemployment claimants.
Is Vermont prepared to pay out the additional $100?
In addition to the FEMA grant, Scott has requested $20 million in relief funding from the Legislature to provide eligible claimants with the additional $100, bring the total benefit to $400 per week.
Funding for state contributions is expected to come from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is distributed to states through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in late March.
Money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund has been used by local governments to address critical expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When will Vermont resides see that money in their account?
“The Department has begun the process of implementing the [Lost Wages Assistance] program, and we expect to begin issuing payments to eligible Vermonters in the next several weeks,” Kyle Thweatt, communications director for the Department of Labor, said in an email Monday afternoon.
Additional information will be provided on as the Department continues to implement the program into the state’s unemployment system, Thweatt said.
Is that money retroactive?
The extra $300 or $400 in unemployment benefits would retroactively cover weekly payments dating back to the week ending on Aug. 1, according to FEMA and the Vermont Department of Labor.
The first round of FEMA funding will cover the initial three weeks of the program, Thweatt said. Afterwards, Vermont, as well as other states, could apply for additional funding should the program remain open.
In order to qualify for the additional payment, unemployment claimants must have a weekly benefit amount of $100 or more, and attest that their employment has been impacted by COVID-19.
Vermonters who have been filing for unemployment stopped receiving an additional $600 unemployment benefits at the end of July.
This story was written with contributions from USA TODAY.
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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