South Carolina applies for extra $300 a week in federal benefits for unemployed

South Carolina applies for extra $300 a week in federal benefits for unemployed
(Source: Unsplash.com)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – Relief could be coming soon for unemployed workers in South Carolina.

Gov. Henry McMaster and state employment leaders announced on Wednesday that South Carolina submitted its grant application for FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program.

The LWA grant was created by President Donald Trump in response to the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. It meant that many people lost an extra $600 a week in their federal unemployment benefits.

RELATED COVERAGE | ‘Worst nightmare’: Laid-off workers endure loss of $600 aid

If the state’s application is approved, the South Carolina LWA would provide an extra $300 in benefits on top of the unemployed worker’s weekly benefit amount.

For each week a claimant is eligible for at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits, the LWA will add $300. The average weekly benefit in South Carolina is about $260.

“Our state should be proud of the economic recovery efforts and the progress we have made to date, but we know that some of our citizens are still struggling in the wake of this pandemic,” McMaster said. “We’ve chosen to participate in this program in a way that will provide additional unemployment relief from the federal government while maintaining our strong record of fiscal responsibility and protecting the interests of South Carolinians.”

Dan Ellzey, the executive director of the Department of Employment and Workforce, said leaders weighed all the options before deciding to apply for the federal program.

“Deciding whether or not it was in the state’s best interest to apply for these funds was not an easy decision,” Ellzey said. “Taking the time to weigh the options in order to best mitigate the state’s risk and ensure it wouldn’t cost South Carolina taxpayers was the right thing for the governor and legislators to do.”

If approved, the LWA payments will be retroactive to Aug. 1.

But it’s important to note that since the LWA funding is coming through a grant from FEMA there is a funding cap. If the federal program exhausts its grant funding, then LWA payments will cease.

All payments will end on Dec. 26 if the funding is not exhausted before that date.

Gov. McMaster’s letter authorizing SCDEW to apply for federal aid:

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.