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Employees at Caesars Palace disinfect casino chips at the property on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada will be applying for a $300-per-week federal unemployment add-on payment proposed by President Donald Trump, but said it can’t afford to provide matching funds and thinks Nevadans wouldn’t see the benefit for several weeks even if the state is approved.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced its plan on Tuesday to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance Program, which comes as a $600-per-week federal bonus has expired and Congress is at an impasse on an extension. When it was initially announced earlier this month, Trump called for states to contribute a $100 match on top of $300 provided by the federal government, to give beneficiaries a $400 bonus through the program.

“Like many states who are applying for this program, Nevada will seek the additional $300 for those that qualify but anticipates not being able to contribute the additional $100 per week due to budget concerns,” DETR officials said in a statement.

Funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Since Trump announced the program, Nevada officials have said they were evaluating the costs before deciding to apply; Gov. Steve Sisolak said Tuesday that while he authorized the state to apply, he’s disappointed by the program’s limitations.

“I want to do everything I can to ensure Nevadans get much needed help with unemployment benefits during this historically difficult time, which is why I authorized DETR to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance program – the only option for additional federal assistance that is currently available,” Sisolak said in a statement. “However, just because it’s the only option does not mean it’s the best option.”

To qualify, beneficiaries would have to be receiving at least $100 a week in benefits from the state-paid unemployment program or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and self-employed people. Recipients must also certify that their unemployment or work reduction is related to the pandemic.

Officials said that while they welcome the extra federal help, it could take time for Nevadans to see the bonus. The state would need to develop another program to administer the money, identify a funding source for costs not covered by the federal government, and comply with federal fraud-reporting rules.

“There are concerns that under the existing DOL guidance, not everyone who has already filed for unemployment will be eligible for this LWA benefit,” said DETR Acting Director Elisa Cafferata. “We will do everything in our power to effectively implement this new program upon approval of our application, and we remain hopeful that Congress and the White House will reach a consensus on a longer-term solution that will assist more Nevadans during this difficult time.” 

It could take four to six weeks after Nevada’s application would be approved for claimants to see money, but they could receive benefits backdated to Aug. 1. Qualifying states would receive enough for three weeks of bonus benefits upon approval, and the availability of further weeks of benefits would depend on how much money remains in the fund.

States are also required to cover 25 percent of administrative costs and can’t tap into existing unemployment funds to pay that.

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