The state of Tennessee will submit its application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive grant funding to pay an additional weekly unemployment benefit to claimants who meet the eligibility requirements of the Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program (LWA).
If approved, the grant will fund a $300 weekly payment. This new LWA payment is in addition to the Tennessee Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or Extended Benefits payments currently available to unemployed Tennessee workers.
The grant requires claimants to receive at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits each week to be eligible for the new LWA payment.
The $300 option allows Tennessee to maintain its Coronavirus Relief Fund initiatives while still more than doubling the state’s maximum benefit amount.
The state’s maximum unemployment benefit is $275. When combined with the new program, the maximum possible benefit in Tennessee will be $575 per week, before federal withholding taxes.
The LWA payments will be retroactive to August 1, 2020. Eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the state will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment.
Unlike the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program (FPUC) that ended in July, LWA is a grant with a finite amount of funding. When the federal program exhausts its grant funding, it will no longer have the resources to provide LWA payments and the program will end at that time. If the federal program does not exhaust the LWA grant funding, payments will end in Tennessee on Saturday, December 26, 2020.
In anticipation of FEMA approval, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has already begun working with its vendor to build a new program within the unemployment computer system to implement and pay LWA benefits. In conjunction with guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor concerning program administration, the state will work diligently to complete this process as quickly as possible.