The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Wisconsin's application to participate in the Lost Wage Assistance program, which supplements unemployment insurance payments by $300 a week, according to a Tuesday press release from FEMA.
But despite the approval Tuesday, state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman said Tuesday morning that eligible Wisconsinites likely won't receive the money until October. Frostman said it'll take the department four to five weeks to set up the program in its computer system, and two more weeks to test the system.
DWD estimates that 140,000 out-of-work Wisconsinites are eligible for increased unemployment benefits.
The approval from FEMA comes five days after the Evers administration applied for the program on Aug. 28, and it means that Wisconsin is the 43rd state in the country to gain approval for the funding.
DWD said Tuesday evening that it had requested funding for four weeks of the $300 supplement from FEMA, meaning eligible recipients could get as much as $1,200 when payments start going out. In FEMA's release Tuesday night, it was not immediately clear if Wisconsin has been approved for all four weeks of funding as requested.
President Donald Trump unveiled the program Aug. 8 after Congress and the White House failed to reach an agreement on the next round of stimulus spending, including supplemental unemployment benefits. Both branches remain at an impasse more than six weeks after a $600 weekly supplement created under the federal CARES Act expired in Wisconsin on July 25.
To be eligible for the program, recipients must receive at least $100 a week in regular unemployment benefits before the federal supplement is added.
In addition, recipients must certify that they are partially or completely unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment insurance experts have warned that answering "yes" to this question is a condition of being eligible for the benefit, adding that many in other states have answered the question incorrectly.