Maine will be receiving federal emergency funds to temporarily supplement unemployment benefits for eligible recipients.
The Lost Wages Assistance program draws from $44 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and provides a $300 weekly boost to those who are eligible for at least $100 in state unemployment or federal pandemic assistance.
The state's initial application for $74 million covers those eligible for unemployment during the first three weeks of August. Thereafter, the state must apply on a weekly basis.
But Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says the program is only temporary and meant as a 'stop-gap measure.'
"The program technically lasts until December 26 of 2020, but based on the amount of interest in the program and the number of states that have applied, it seems that that finite pot of $44 billion will exhaust well before December."
Fortman says it will likely take the Department of Labor about three weeks to get a system in place to issue the first supplemental payments. "There's a prohibition from us using any unemployment insurance funds in order to staff the program or to create any of the systems necessary to deliver it, so we anticipate it will take us about three weeks."
Originally published at 5:50 p.m. Aug. 26, 2020.