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New federal money available to some Utahns impacted by COVID-19 layoffs

SHARE New federal money available to some Utahns impacted by COVID-19 layoffs
The Utah Department of Workforce Services’ main administration building in Salt Lake City now bears the name of the late Gov. Olene S. Walker. The building was renamed during a ceremony celebrating the department’s 20th anniversary on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services’ main administration building in Salt Lake City.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Workforce Services Thursday reported that new aid will automatically be made available to some Utahns who were left jobless due to coronavirus layoffs.

The news comes as the department reported the total number of new claims filed for unemployment benefits rose to 5,321 for the week of Aug. 9-15 even as the overall number of continuing claims fell again, to 66,984.

“We are happy to announce that Utah was one of the first of seven states to apply for and be approved for the Lost Wages Assistance program, providing additional support for those receiving unemployment assistance,” said Unemployment Insurance Division Director Kevin Burt. “The funding is currently limited to $300 for a period of three weeks, but we chose to participate in order to ensure Utahns had access to the additional federal resources temporarily available.”

According to DWS, the assistance is currently available to qualifying applicants for three weeks from July 26 through Aug. 15. Individuals will be eligible if their weekly unemployment benefit amount was at least $100, they were eligible for one of the standard unemployment programs and they were left jobless or partially sidelined as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lost wage benefits will be automatically calculated and paid within four weeks based on unemployment claims received, meaning qualifying individuals will not need to call or apply separately for the benefit.

“It is available to those on both unemployment insurance, those on pandemic unemployment assistance and also those on the extended benefits,” Burt said. “You do not need to apply or call. It is available for all of the programs including state benefits and temporary federally funded benefits through the (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act).”

“It is new to FEMA, it is new to Utah, so we want to make sure that we coordinate and understand the rules of the program so that people are properly paid, and we do expect payment out within four weeks,” he added.