FEMA authorized to use $44 billion of disaster funds for unemployment benefits

President Trump Saturday authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use up to $44 billion in Stafford Act disaster relief funds to supplement individuals’ wages resulting from lost work due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The president’s directive said that states and territories that apply for funds may distribute through their unemployment insurance system $400 per week, including a $300 federal contribution, to individuals who currently receive at least $100 per week of unemployment compensation benefits and can self-certify that they are unemployed or are unable or unavailable to work due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

The White House and FEMA continue to work on guidance for state distributions and the program will be applied retroactively to the week ending Aug. 1. It can continue no later than Dec. 6, or until the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund reaches $25 billion or until Congress enacts a separate, replacement unemployment relief program.