Connecticut ranks last in the nation for personal income

Unemployed workers in the state will begin receiving additional federal benefits this week, the Lamont administration announced Monday.

The additional money, $300 a week, will be paid retroactively for those who qualify and will be paid for six weeks, the Connecticut Labor Department said. This will provide thousands of unemployed workers in the state with an additional $1,800.

The federal aid is a slimmed-down version of a program created by legislation addressing the pandemic that had provided those who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus with $600 a week  in enhanced unemployment benefits, for up to 39 weeks.

But those enhanced benefits ended on July 26 and many jobless individuals have struggled since then.  Meanwhile Congress has been unable to reach a deal on new stimulus legislation that would reinstate the federal benefits.

Frustrated by Congress’ inaction, President Donald Trump used his authority to spend about $44 billion in Federal Emergency Management funds to reinstate the benefits himself, at half the amount and for a limited time.

“We urge claimants to self-certify for Lost Wages Assistance —it will offer much-needed additional assistance to our unemployed workforce,” said Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby. “But this program is only a temporary one —FEMA will end it once available federal funding is exhausted.”

Retroactive to July 26, the new federal aid will also be available for claim weeks beginning August 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 of 2020. That means that those who have lost their jobs in September are not eligible.

Claimants will receive the supplemental benefit in several payments. The first payment of $300 will be issued this week and the remainder of retroactive payments following in two or three separate payments.

To qualify for the federal benefit, a claimant must have a weekly benefit of at least $100 and have become unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19.

Those who participated in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was established for self-employed individuals, independent contractors and others who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits, have already self-certified that their unemployment or underemployment is due to COVID-19 . But all other applicants for the new federal aid are required to self-certify when they apply for the new benefit on the Connecticut Department of Labor web site.

The new federal program is expected to provide $375 million in additional unemployment benefits to Connecticut claimants, the CDOL said.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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