Jerry Oleksiak

Oleksiak

That weekly $300 Lost Wages Assistance benefit should start arriving next week.

State Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak reminded Pennsylvanians of that Tuesday morning during L&I’s weekly virtual news conference. Claimants who have applied and qualified for the federal program could receive their first payment as early as next Monday.

The department announced Friday that it had instituted the program weeks earlier than anticipated. The LWA program was set up in early August through a $44 billion federal grant.

“This program is for claimants who are fully or partly unemployed because of the (COVID-19) pandemic,” Oleksiak said. States can kick in another $100 per week from state funds, but Pennsylvania is does not have the funds to do so.

For residents of the Keystone State, that $300 will replace the weekly $600 payment they were receiving from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which ended in late July. LWA payments will come in a lump sum for previous claim weeks dating to Aug. 1.

Eligible claimants must have a benefit rate and dependence allowance totaling $100 or more per week in benefits from one of these programs: Regular Unemployment Compensation; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; Pennsylvania Extended Benefits; Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation; Trade Readjustment Allowance.

Recipients of benefits from these programs, except for PUA and Shared Work, must apply for LWA by certifying one time that their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to COVID-19. Visit www.uc.pa.gov/cert, log in with your PIN as if filing for a biweekly claim, and select the “Complete LWA Certification” button and fill it out.

Pennsylvania has gotten a bit of a boost from that federal grant, Oleksiak said. The state initially received $1.5 billion, which would have sustained three weeks of $300 benefits. Now it has $2.4 billion, good for five weeks.

The program will end when the $44 billion is gone, which will be by Dec. 27, or if another supplemental program is enacted.

The secretary said his department, since March 15, has disbursed $25 billion in total UC benefits; $4.9 billion in traditional UC; $15.7 billion in FPUC; and $4.7 billion in Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation..

L&I will have its 16th weekly town hall at 1 p.m. Thursday. It is open to the public, by calling 833-380-0719 or live-streaming at https://access.live/PAlabor.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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