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South Carolina applies for $300 Lost Wages grant for the unemployed

The money will provide $300 for people on top of their weekly unemployment benefit.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has applied for a $300 federal wage benefit to help people struggling financially during the pandemic.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said late Wednesday that SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) Executive Director Dan Ellzey submitted the state's grant for FEMA's Lost Wages Assistance program.

“Our state should be proud of the economic recovery efforts and the progress we have made to date, but we know that some of our citizens are still struggling in the wake of this pandemic,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “We’ve chosen to participate in this program in a way that will provide additional unemployment relief from the federal government while maintaining our strong record of fiscal responsibility and protecting the interests of South Carolinians.”

The LWA grant was created by President Donald Trump through executive order in response to the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. If the state’s application is approved, the South Carolina LWA would provide an additional $300 in benefits on top of a claimant’s weekly benefit amount.

For each week a claimant is eligible for at least $100 in state or federal unemployment benefits, the LWA will add $300. In South Carolina, the average weekly benefit is approximately $260.

“Deciding whether or not it was in the state’s best interest to apply for these funds was not an easy decision,” said DEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey. “Taking the time to weigh the options in order to best mitigate the state’s risk and ensure it wouldn’t cost South Carolina taxpayers was the right thing for the governor and legislators to do.”

“At the same time, we know there are citizens who are still in great need. DEW has been testing changes in its benefits portal based upon guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. If South Carolina is approved, we will work as quickly as possible with our vendor to get the application into the system.”

The governor's office says LWA payments will be retroactive to August 1, 2020; however, unlike prior federal funding provided through the CARES Act, LWA funding comes through a grant from FEMA and has a funding cap. Should the federal program exhaust its grant funding, the LWA payments will cease. The LWA program and all LWA payments will end on December 26, 2020 regardless, but will end earlier if funding runs out before then.