Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.

Workers may qualify for an extra $1,500 in unemployment back pay

A federal program will give some of the state’s unemployed a $300 weekly bump for the past five weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians could soon be getting up to $1,500 in unemployment back pay.

The money comes from the federally funded Lost Wages Assistance program administered by the state Employment Security Department, which provides a $300 unemployment benefit bump each week for five weeks, starting with the period that ended Aug. 1. To be eligible, you must be unemployed or working reduced hours because of the pandemic and have received unemployment compensation during the month of August. For those who collected all month, that’s a total of $1,500, and the program could continue into September.

President Donald Trump authorized the temporary Lost Wages Assistance program through a memorandum signed on Aug. 8.

The federal government approved Washington’s application for three weeks of back pay on Aug. 24. The state was granted money for two more weeks of back pay. It’s unclear how long the program will last as Republicans and Democrats in Congress negotiate another COVID relief package.

“We essentially apply each week,” state Employment Security Department spokesperson Clare DeLong said. “If the application is approved, then the money is there. We’ll keep doing those applications as long as we can, but it’s a week-by-week basis.”

To claim your extra payments, all you need to do is visit your unemployment account online by Sept. 20 and answer a question to certify that you qualify for the program.

The agency is worried that an influx of users could cause issues for the website.

“You have this entire time to do it,” DeLong said.

There is no benefit to answering the question earlier as long as you certify your status by Sept. 20, she said.

The Employment Security Department will start processing the payments on Sept. 21.

More information about the process and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the agency’s website, esd.wa.gov/LWA.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 Washingtonians are waiting for the state agency to resolve issues with their claims. For some, that process is holding up thousands of dollars in owed back pay.

With new claims coming in each week, there will always be pending cases, the agency has said. The goal has been to reduce the wait time for each case to three weeks. Now it’s nearly double that.

“We just need to keep working through these” cases, DeLong said. “Those who have been waiting the longest are definitely still a priority.”

Most new claimants are getting paid within a week, she said.

In total, the state has paid out more than $10 billion in unemployment benefits since the pandemic hit in March.

But an unprecedented wave of new claims, and a massive international fraud scheme, caused tens of thousands of Washingtonians to wait weeks or months for relief.

DeLong said she didn’t anticipate the same issues for the Lost Wages Assistance program because recipients of the new round of payments are already in the state’s system.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo.
Bellevue man charged in 2019 assault that left a man dead on a Redmond roadway

After a two-year investigation, Bradley Hibbard was arrested for murder in the second degree.

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Most Read