Utah wins federal approval for extra $300 weekly in unemployment benefits

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Help wanted sign in Salt Lake Valley on July 17, 2020.

Utah won federal approval Monday to participate in a program ordered by President Donald Trump that will provide an extra $300 unemployment to some Utahns — but they may need to wait up to four weeks to receive it retroactively.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Utah’s application to receive Lost Wages Assistance funding from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Trump signed executive orders on Aug. 8 that allow the use of up to $44 billion from that fund to provide an extra $300 a week in emergency unemployment benefits. He did that after earlier $600 weekly benefits expired, and he and Congress could not agree on an extension program.

“We want to emphasize that this benefit is currently time-limited to only a three-week period and not everyone who has filed an unemployment claim will be eligible,” said Kevin Burt, director of the Unemployment Insurance Division for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

He added, “We will continue to work with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor to pursue any additional funds for Utahns that may remain after the initial three-week period of benefits are distributed.”

The extra $300 a week is available only to individuals who received at least $100 a week in benefits through one of the standard unemployment programs during the three-week period of July 26 through Aug. 15, and were unemployed or partially unemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benefits will be automatically calculated and distributed based on unemployment claims received. Individuals do not need to call or apply separately for this benefit.

The Department of Workforce Services said it is consulting with the U.S. Department of Labor and FEMA on the implementation of the program and accurate distribution of funds, which it expects to occur in mid-September. More information is available at jobs.utah.gov/covid19/covidui.html.