Feds Approve Retroactive Unemployment Pay In Massachusetts

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The federal government has approved Massachusetts' application to extend unemployment benefits for those out of work due to the pandemic.

According to Gov. Baker, the state of Massachusetts applied for the new federal Lost Wages Assistance Program last month, which was implemented by a federal Executive Order after the federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program expired.

The LWA program will allocate funds from Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide an extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits for claimants throughout the Commonwealth.

"This approval applies to both the traditional unemployment claimants, and the claimants under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which was created by the CARES Act for self-employed workers, gig-economy works, and others who don't participate in what we think of as the traditional unemployment assistance program," Baker said.

Since the state's application was approved by the federal government, Baker said a team at the Department of Unemployment Assistance has been working to develop the technical infrastructure and reporting capabilities required to implement to program, so the resources can be distributed.

"Eligible claimants do not need to take action to receive these benefits," Baker said. "They'll show up on a retroactive basis in your account. The retroactivity goes back to August 1st."

Around 235,000 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claimants started receiving supplemental benefits from the DUA last week.

"It's an important step in ensuring that we sustain supplemental relief for people who are out of work here in Massachusetts through no fault of their own during this pandemic," Baker said. "But as we said before, this program is a diversion from the FEMA program, which was appropriated funds for the so-called 'disaster' attached to COVID-19. It should not be considered, and isn't, a permanent or sustainable solution.

"As I've said before," Baker continued, "and so have many other governors, Republicans and Democrats; it's important for Washington to step up and do what they said they were going to do last summer, which is to implement a COVID-19 relief package that supports a longer term, more traditional unemployment benefit program, and to support the states and localities that have, in many cases, borne much of the burden of making sure that their communities are safe. People in both parties need to come together to make this happen some time soon."

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(Photo: MassGovernor/Flickr)

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