NEW SERVICE OF FLORIDA – Florida will start adding $300 in federal money to weekly unemployment benefits as COVID-19 continues keeping hundreds of thousands of residents out of work, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday.
The short-term aid, through the Federal Lost Wages Assistance program, is also retroactive for weeks of unemployment ending on or after Aug. 1, the governor’s office said.
“These additional funds will provide critical support to Florida’s unemployed workforce due to COVID-19,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.
The program will be administered similar to an earlier federal assistance program that expired in July, and unemployment applicants will not need to file additional paperwork, the governor’s office said. Most Floridians will get the added federal benefits the same way they receive their weekly state assistance.
However, paper checks will be issued to people who get assistance through debit cards.
Florida, which provides up to $275 a week in unemployment assistance for 12 weeks, had an 11.3 percent jobless rate in July, representing 1.125 million unemployed people.
Since mid-March, the state has distributed nearly $14.96 billion to 1.95 million unemployment applicants, with more than $11.7 billion coming from the federal government. The earlier federal program provided $600 in additional weekly benefits.
Floridians who are already eligible for at least $100 a week in state assistance and are out of work because of the pandemic will be eligible for the new federal funding.
President Donald Trump issued a directive on Aug. 8 to use Federal Emergency Management Agency money for the program.