coronavirus in massachusetts

Massachusetts Releases New Details on $300 Boost to Unemployment Benefits

The payments are expected to be disbursed by Sept. 15

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The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance released new details this week on a proposed $300 boost to unemployment benefits.

State officials announced last month that Massachusetts residents who are unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to receive up to an additional $900 in aid thanks to a federal grant award.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a Massachusetts application for money through the Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance program, funding an extra $300 weekly payment for those who are eligible for at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits for the weeks ending Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. An additional application for the week ending Aug. 22 has been sent to FEMA and Massachusetts is awaiting review.

Both those on standard unemployment insurance and on the expanded eligibility Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program -- which covers gig workers and others who normally cannot access benefits -- will receive the additional payments if they qualified for aid in the weeks covered, according to a spokesperson for the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

The state Department of Unemployment Assistance said Tuesday that it has begun the disbursement of Lost Wages Assistance to claimants, who will receive benefits beginning Wednesday. All of the payments are expected to be disbursed by Sept. 15.

Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project, talks about the impact of the federal stimulus checks amid pandemic and how the economy could further tailspin if the assistance package isn't extended by Congress.

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Most eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the state will automatically add the funds to their weekly benefit payment retroactive to the dates specified in the grant.

President Donald Trump authorized FEMA last month to use up to $44 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund to help states cover lost wage payments, and Massachusetts officials submitted an application last week.

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