ATLANTA — Hundreds of thousands of Georgians will receive $1,800 in extra unemployment benefits next week as part of the Lost Wages Assistance Program.
The Georgia Department of Labor tells Channel 2 Action News that the money will be distributed as six extra payments of $300, spread over two days. The first $900 payment will be distributed early next week and the second $900 payment will be issued by the end of the week.
Anyone who already qualified to receive $100 or more weekly in state unemployment benefits will see the money hit their bank accounts.
The Lost Wages Assistance program was created through an executive order signed by President Donald Trump in August to make up to $44 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief funds available to pay unemployed Americans.
This comes after the $600-a-week federal payments expired in July.
After the initial $1,800 payments, it’s unclear if any extra benefits will be provided through the end of the year. The president’s executive order says the weekly payments will end when the balance in FEMA’s disaster relief fund falls to $25 billion or on Dec. 27, 2020.
“We understood the President’s Executive Order was contingent upon the availability of funds,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Although the six weeks of benefits wasn’t what many had hoped for, the additional support will make a big difference to some struggling to avoid eviction.”
Channel 2′s Lori Wilson talked to Caren Gordon, who said she has enough money to make ends meet for the next few weeks at best. She applied for unemployment assistance in June and hasn’t received anything yet.
“I’ve used my savings, and my savings is about gone,” Gordon said.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said anyone who hasn’t gotten money yet should continue to call and email the Department of Labor. Officials said they are working through a backlog of cases that need more investigation.
Butler said that because the money is coming from FEMA, the state had to come up with a new software program to release the money.
“We’ve had to deal with a lot of this during the pandemic,” Butler said. “You know, new programs, new rules.”
While that won’t help Gordon, she continues to hope that every day might be the day she gets some help.
“Every morning, I get up and a check the GDOL website,” she said. “It’s very frustrating.”
To check eligibility, claimants should visit their My U.I. portal where they will use a link to attest to the reason for their unemployment. Information on LWA and other unemployment and reemployment programs can be found on the agency’s webpage at www.gdol.ga.gov.