Georgians still jobless because of the COVID-19 pandemic could get up to $1,800 in federal benefits by the end of next week, on top of their normal state unemployment benefit, the Georgia Department of Labor has announced.
That equates to $300 per week for six weeks’ worth of benefits, the limit under the Lost Wages Assistance program, which President Donald Trump set in motion through an Aug. 8 executive order.
“We understood the president’s executive order was contingent upon the availability of funds,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “Although the six weeks of benefits wasn’t what many had hoped for, the additional support will make a big difference to some struggling to avoid eviction.”
Georgians whose unemployment was caused directly by the pandemic and who earn at least $100 weekly in state benefits qualify for the federal supplement. They will receive the federal benefits in two waves — $900 early next week and $900 later in the week, the labor department said.
To check eligibility, those who filed an individual claim should visit their unemployment web portal, where they will use a link to attest to the reason for their unemployment, labor officials said.
“Individuals whose employers have filed on their behalf or those who are receiving benefits through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance do not need to attest their reason for unemployment due to weekly certification that addresses this requirement,” a labor department press release states.
Gainesville acupuncturist Steve Collins described the additional federal benefit as “sorely needed.”
“Although I know that there are some who choose not to work in lieu of getting the benefits,” Gainesville acupuncturist Steve Collins said, “there are many more of us who would rather be fully self-sustaining and would rather not depend on government assistance, even when we can work as we can.”
Collins told The Times in July that his practice had been hit hard because of a drop in patients. He said then that the funding assistance he was receiving from the government was likely keeping him in his home.
The $1,800 benefits are an extension of a $600-per-week federal supplement provided as part of the CARES Act approved by Congress in March. That funding ended in late July.
Congress debated an extension of the program, with Trump issuing the executive order after talks stalled. Lost Wages Assistance is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration's Disaster Relief Fund.
Lawmakers are still at a standstill on further COVID-19 relief. A $650 billion bill that would include a $300 boost in weekly unemployment insurance benefits through Dec. 27 fell short in the Republican-controlled Senate this week.
The state Department of Labor has paid more than $13 billion in state and federal benefits since the pandemic began in mid-March.