Hawaii workers unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for an additional fifth week of a $300 weekly payment funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but it’s unclear when the extra $300 will be distributed.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz today announced FEMA’s additional grant to Hawaii of $53.5 million, in addition to $200 million in FEMA funds announced last month.
The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations later said the money will be used to add a fifth week of FEMA unemployment benefits, in addition to the previous announcement of four weeks of FEMA funds.
The extra money means that a Hawaii worker unemployed by COVID-19 who is eligible for the maximum unemployment benefit of $648 in weekly state benefits would receive an additional $300 in weekly federal benefits, for a total of $948.
Because DLIR needs to create a new program to distribute the funds, officials have yet to announce when unemployed workers should expect to receive the additional $300 in weekly benefits, which are expected to be retroactive to Aug. 1 when $600 in so-called, federal “plus-up” unemployment benefits expired.
Only unemployed workers who receive at least $100 per week in state unemployment benefits will be eligible for the additional money through the Lost Wages Assistance Program. The program is funded by FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which received $45 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Schatz said.
“While this new funding will provide some immediate help, it’s not enough for Hawaii families who are struggling to make ends meet,” Schatz said in a statement. “We’ll continue working to secure more federal funding to help Hawaii get through this tough time.”