Kansas applies for program to bring $400 in weekly assistance to unemployed residents

Posted at 1:25 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 14:25:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some Kansans could soon be eligible for more federal assistance if they are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday her office’s intent to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been authorized to spend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund for the program.

If Kansas’ application is approved, unemployed residents will be eligible for $400 more per week in addition to their regular unemployment benefits.

Kelly’s team said in a statement Thursday the program will take several weeks to implement if the state’s application is approved.

The Kansas Department of Labor estimated eligible claimants could expect the additional payments no sooner than late September.

The payments would be retroactive, however, to the week ending Aug. 1, and continue to pay out until FEMA ends the program.

The eligibility requirements differ from those of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program through which claimants received $600 weekly. That program expired in July.

For LWA, claimants must self-certify that their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible claimants must also already be receiving at least $100 in unemployment benefits, according to Kelly’s office.

Kelly, who has voiced her frustrations with the United States Senate, which went into recess before extending federal benefits, said she “could not sit by idly while many Kansans are still facing unemployment.”

However, the state recognizes LWA is a temporary solution.

“We know Kansans are hurting and we are working to launch the LWA program so that we can assist as many individuals and families as possible,” Acting KDOL Secretary Ryan Wright said in a statement. “However, this program is not a permanent solution, at best it can be viewed as a quick fix. During these difficult economic times, we need Congress to fund permanent unemployment solutions for families in need. We need Congress to act.”

Kelly cited similar reasoning 10 days ago when she introduced an executive order to place a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.

At the time, Kelly said if the Senate had not acted in two weeks, she would sign an extension of her order to provide further relief to Kansas residents.