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ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced that Maryland has submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) grant, which will provide an additional $300 per week to Marylanders who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Maryland is doing much better on our health metrics than most of the rest of the country, we are doing much better on our economic recovery than most of the rest of the country, and we want to do whatever it takes to keep it that way,” said Governor Hogan. “But far too many Marylanders are still struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. With this critical funding, we can help those struggling Marylanders weather this storm, get back on their feet, and recover.”
Once FEMA reviews and approves the state’s grant application, the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance will coordinate with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and FEMA to program, implement, and distribute LWA funds, which is expected to begin in late September.
“Our department is grateful for the opportunity to apply for federal funding from FEMA to provide additional financial support to unemployed Marylanders as our state continues to recover from the impact of COVID-19,” said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson. “While it will take some time to work with the federal administration to implement this new program, all claimants will receive benefit payments retroactive to their earliest date of eligibility within the new program.”
Eligible claimants will receive the $300 per week in benefits retroactive to the week ending August 1, 2020 and ending no later than December 26, 2020. To qualify for the additional $300 per week, claimants must be eligible for a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 and must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Claimants will not have to file a new application to receive LWA benefits.
Per guidance from USDOL, FEMA will fund the $300 per week benefit and Maryland will fulfill the 25% state match through funding that is already paid to claimants in regular unemployment insurance benefits. It is important to note that the terms of the LWA program may be subject to change if the FEMA funding is exhausted or the federal government enacts a new law providing supplemental federal unemployment compensation, or similar compensation, for unemployed or underemployed individuals due to COVID-19.
Maryland’s unemployment rate is 8.0%—nearly 28% lower than the national unemployment rate and better than 32 other states in the nation. In May and June, as the state began its COVID-19 recovery, Maryland gained 96,700 jobs. The next report on state unemployment data will be released this Friday, August 21.