Delaware Public Media

First State to pursue additional federal unemployment funds despite hurdles

Aug 25, 2020

The Delaware Department of Labor intends to tap into a federal program to help those unemployed because of COVID related reasons.

 

The state is applying for the Lost Wages Assistance Program from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Claimants unemployed because of the pandemic will receive an additional $300 per week from the program, as long as they are already receiving $100 in unemployment benefits from the state.

The Lost Wage Assistance Program was established through a memorandum issued by President Trump.

"I think directly it's related to the administration and Congress inability to come to an agreement to extend the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program that was authorized through the CARES Act. That was the $600 additional benefit that was being provided," said Darryl Scott, Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance director.

Delaware Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade in a statement says this program is unnecessarily complicated and a nightmare to implement quickly.

In a statement, Delaware’s Secretary of Labor Cerron Cade calls this plan by the President a “Hail Mary” and that it will be a nightmare to implement quickly.

Cade notes that states are being asked to pay these benefits differently.  

“One of the challenges with this new program is that states are being directed to pay these benefits through FEMA rather than the traditional unemployment sources which we have been using since this crisis began. These funds cannot intermingle," said Cade in a statement. "Therefore, states will have to establish new systems which must interface with our existing unemployment rolls to determine eligibility. This could take weeks to get operational. While communication with our federal partners continues as we apply for this assistance, our various requests for greater flexibility have been rejected. Furthermore, with the stability of the funding source and overall legality of the President’s memorandum in question; it is unclear if or when the additional benefits will be available.”

If approved, those eligible would receive retroactive payments from August 1, and the benefit is scheduled to end no later than December 27. The program could be scrapped if Congress passes a new law.