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Florida approved to pay out fourth week of federal unemployment benefits

This will be the last week of the Lost Wages Assistance Program, the state said.
Credit: First Coast News

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There will be another $300 deposit going out, minus taxes, to eligible Floridians receiving unemployment benefits as part of the federal government's Lost Wages Assistance Program.

The Department of Economic Opportunity confirmed Monday the benefit should be sent out sometime this week.

Florida previously had been approved for three weeks, with those weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. The new fourth week covers the period ending Aug. 22.

It will be the last week of federal benefits provided, the DEO said.

The Lost Wages Assistance Program was created through an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in early August. The order made up to $44 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief funds available to pay unemployed Americans an additional $300 per week after the $600 a week federal payments expired in July. 

To be eligible, claimants must be receiving at least $100 in an approved state-funded Reemployment Assistance program weekly benefit. They also must certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

More detailed information is on the state's website.

Florida opted out of paying an additional $100 on top of the $300 provided under the Lost Wages Assistance Program. In this case, to be eligible, the state is required to be paying out at least 25 percent of its total unemployment claims with state funds. It does not currently do so, according to First Coast News. 

As of Aug. 29, about 368,000 unemployment claims were state-funded, which is about 19 percent of Florida’s total unemployment claims. The reason why other states qualify and Florida does not basically comes down to how many weeks states offer in unemployment benefits.

"Florida’s historically low unemployment rate in 2019, pre COVID-19, set the number of weeks Floridians are eligible for state Reemployment Assistance in 2020," DEO spokesperson Paige Landrum said in an email. "Neither the Governor, nor the Department, have the legal ability to change the number of weeks provided for Reemployment Assistance.

Florida offers 12 weeks, which is the lowest in the country. The nation’s average is 26 weeks.

First Coast News' Josslyn Howard contributed to this report.

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