DALLAS — Texans receiving unemployment may now start receiving federal unemployment benefits again.
The $600 weekly federal benefit expired July 25th. It was replaced by a weekly $300 federal payment under the Lost Wages Assistance program, which was made possible by executive order after Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration balked at Democratic legislation to continue the $600 per week benefit through January of 2021.
347,700 Texans ineligible
But about one in five Texans drawing unemployment will not be eligible for the $300 federal benefit, because to get the federal $300 each week, a recipient must first qualify for at least $100 per week in state unemployment benefits.
The Texas Workforce Commission says of the roughly 1.7 million Texans receiving benefits, 347,700 do not meet the $100 state benefit threshold for the federal payments.
Those who are eligible for the federal benefit may receive back payments all the way to the week ending August 1st.
The TWC says, “For people eligible for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program making payment requests this week, between August 23 and August 29th, they will see an additional $300 weekly benefit added to their benefit payments for the weeks ending August 1st, August 8th and August 15th."
Importantly, people receiving those back payments of federal money will not need to do anything extra to claim them "If they have stated they are impacted due to Covid-19 and are eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program, they will be paid the additional $300 per week including backdated payments for the other weeks going back to the week ending 8/1," according to the TWC.
Questions about DUA and federal benefit
Many people say they have gotten emails stating that they are not eligible for the additional $300 weekly federal benefits because they are on “Disaster Unemployment Assistance." Here is what the TWC says about that:
- At this time, there are no claimants receiving DUA except for those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which in Texas is under our disaster programming and identified by the federal declared COVID-19 disaster for Texas (DR. 4485) and are eligible for the LWA benefits.
- Texans receiving UI benefits through PUA would need to receive a $100 in UI benefits or more and be certified that their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to COVID-19 in order to be eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program.
- The Lost Wages Assistance program is specific to COVID-19 where other programs under DUA are specific to other disasters. For example, if there was a flood-related disaster that is responsible for closing down a business; a person that lost their job due to the flood could potentially be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits for a specific period of time based on the DUA related to the flood. The person that applied for DUA based on the flood would not be eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program because the flood is the reason for the closure of the business and unemployment, not COVID-19.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) provides unemployment benefits for individuals who lost their jobs or self-employment or who are no longer working as a direct result of a major disaster for which a disaster assistance period is declared, and who applied but are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
The federal payments may not last long
TWC includes this disclaimer:
"TWC receives federal funding for the Lost Wages Assistance program every week and will continue to provide the additional $300 weekly benefits to people that are eligible; this includes backdated payments that a claimant may not yet have received. The Texas Workforce Commission can only pay LWA benefits from FEMA funds, and we have no control over when the federal funds from FEMA will be disbursed. FEMA only provided 3 weeks of funding for the weeks ending August 1, August 8 and August 15th. The Texas Workforce Commission will continue to use federal funds to pay for LWA until the funding ends, new legislation is passed, or the program expires."
Related: Six things you need to know about federal unemployment benefits in Texas
1. You do not need to "apply" for these additional federal benefits. If you are receiving state benefits you are automatically considered. This includes self-employed and "1099" workers who were newly eligible for benefits in the pandemic.
2. You must be approved for at least $100 per week in state benefits to qualify for the federal $300. If you are approved for less than $100 per week in state benefits, you will not be eligible for the extra $300, but you can sign into your TWC account and appeal your state benefit amount to TWC if you believe the amount should be higher.
3. The additional federal benefit will start showing up for payment requests for the week beginning August 24th.
4. This additional federal money will be backdated to the week ending August 1st. The previous benefit expired the week ending July 25th, so this makes the federal benefit seamless.
5. To be eligible for the additional federal benefit, when you applied for benefits initially (or if you apply from today forward), you need to have checked the box (truthfully) that your job loss or hours lost are due to Covid19. *Important* If you didn't check that box, but your unemployment claim IS due to Covid19, TWC says you will have the option to certify that your unemployment claim is due to Covid19 when you go in to request payments on August 24th or thereafter.
6. The extra $300 per week will be applied until the money runs out or the program expires. *Note* Congressional Democrats are still pushing for a larger weekly federal benefit. If they and Republicans can make a deal and the president signs it, that potentially larger benefit would replace this $300 weekly payment.