By Anthony Zepperi, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut has submitted its application for federal funding to establish a temporary program that will provide a $300 weekly wage supplement to existing unemployment benefits in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration has been authorized to use up to $44 billion in Stafford Act disaster relief funds to assist workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic.
The program requires states to establish an entirely new process for claimants to access the FEMA funding.
New unemployment claimants and existing state and extended benefits claimants will be required to self-certify that they are eligible under the federal guidelines. Existing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants have already self-certified.
Lamont said that these funds are important, especially for people who are financially unstable.
“This will bring some much-needed assistance to Connecticut workers who have lost jobs due to the coronavirus,” Lamont said.
According to Lamont, the program will add $300 to a claimant’s existing weekly benefit for as long as federal funds are available and help fill the hole left when the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program expired on July 26.
Lamont urged the Trump Administration to come to terms in regards to people who were unemployed during the pandemic.
“It’s imperative that the Trump administration reach an agreement with Congress on comprehensive legislation that provides stable and long-term funding to supplement weekly unemployment benefits,” Lamont said.
It has been available for claim since August 2 and August 9, with additional weeks under review.
If the state’s application is approved by the federal government, FEMA will transfer the funding to the Connecticut Department of Labor, which will then be disbursed to eligible claimants.
Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said that this new program will provide much-needed support to those affected.
“This program will certainly provide some level of assistance to Connecticut’s weekly filers who, without the federal supplement, receive an average of $269 per week,” Westby said. “The Connecticut Department of Labor continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to get this additional funding out to claimants as soon as possible.
The agency anticipates disbursement in mid-September and expects about 250,000 claimants to be eligible for the federal benefit.