HOUSTON – Hundreds of thousands of Texans are now receiving $300 a week in addition to their unemployment benefits from the state. These are federal FEMA funds used in the Lost Wages Assistance program passed by President Trump after the $600 weekly boost from the feds expired at the end of July. Consumer expert Amy Davis is answering some of your questions about who qualifies for the money and how you can get it if you are out of work.
Q: Who qualifies for the Lost Wages Assistance program and the weekly $300 benefit?
A: In order to be eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program, claimants must certify that they are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19, and they must receive at least a $100 dollars in benefits per week. If you receive less than $100 a week in unemployment from Texas, you do not qualify.
Q: How do I apply for the extra $300 per week?
A: If you are already receiving unemployment benefits, you do NOT need to do anything to receive the extra $300 dollars from the Lost Wages Assistance program. You do not need to call TWC. If you meet the criteria stated above, you will receive the $300. Continue requesting payments, and TWC will generate the extra payments if you are eligible. If you are just now applying for unemployment, you must make it clear on your applications that you are unemployed or have lost wages because of COVID-19. If you are already collecting unemployment and were out of work for reasons not related to COVID-19, but now can not get work because of COVID-19, when you request your next payment, you need to certify that you are now unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19.
Q: How many Texans collecting unemployment are eligible for the Lost Wages Assistance program?
A: The number varies week by week; but according to Cisco Gamez with the Texas Workforce Commission, for the week of August 24th, out of approximately 1.7 million Texans that collected unemployment benefits, about 300,000 were not eligible to get the extra $300 boost.
Q: Since the $600 weekly federal unemployment boost expired at the end of July, will this new weekly $300 boost be paid retroactively?