CHARLESTON — West Virginians who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and are eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) can apply for a 13-week extension on Wednesday, May 6.
The additional weeks of benefits are provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will be available to individuals who previously collected state or federal unemployment compensation but have exhausted those benefits. Applicants may apply for the PEUC extension by visiting www.workforcewv.org after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 6 and clicking the "Apply for PEUC Extra 13 Weeks Here" tile on the front page.
"Unemployed workers can apply for PEUC benefits on their own starting Wednesday and we'll contact folks who have exhausted their benefits and let them know that they can apply for the extension," said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WorkForce West Virginia. "Our hearts go out to everyone who has had to wait patiently to apply for benefits. Folks can be assured they will be made whole."
Individuals eligible for PEUC benefits will receive the same amount of unemployment compensation he or she received in previous weeks in addition to the $600 in weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
To learn more about PEUC benefits, visit www.workforcewv.org/cares-act-questions.
Workers To Begin Receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Benefits on May 8
WorkForce West Virginia will begin paying Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PAU) benefits on May 8. More than 13,600 people have applied.
Under regular unemployment, an employer pays unemployment compensation taxes on behalf of an employee and WorkForce receives quarterly wage records, which are then used to determine a weekly benefit amount when a worker files an application for benefits. That wage data isn’t available for self-employed workers, who normally aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits.
Through the CARES Act, PUA benefits are available to individuals who normally aren't eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law, including individuals who are self-employed or who have limited recent work history, certain gig economy workers, clergymen and women and those working for religious organizations. Individuals applying for PUA benefits need to submit wage records to WorkForce, which evaluates what income was, what it has been reduced to and then determine eligibility and a weekly benefit amount.
"The CARES Act requires us to review and vet PUA applications to determine eligibility before we can pay benefits," said Adkins. "It’s a very labor intensive process that has to be done manually, which is why things have taken a few weeks, but we are working round the clock to process claims and get this much-needed help to our state's self-employed workers."
Because WorkForce must work through a backlog of wage data to determine weekly benefit amounts, Gov. Jim Justice directed WorkForce to begin issuing the minimum amount of PUA benefits and the additional $600 in FPUC benefits to eligible claimants starting May 8.
"Some people are going to be eligible for more than the $158 minimum, but we know most unemployed workers can't afford to wait another week to get this money," Adkins said. "If someone is due more, we will settle up with them as soon as we work through the wage data. Everyone will get every cent they're due."
Applying For Unemployment Compensation
WorkForce officials are reminding people who are applying for unemployment compensation to be mindful of state and federal eligibility requirements and to educate themselves on what they need to do as they file weekly claims.
Federal unemployment compensation law requires unemployment claimants be able to work, available to work and actively seeking work. The following actions can impact eligibility:
Declining To Return to Work
Workers temporarily laid off because of COVID-19 must return to work if they are called back if they wish to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Refusing to return to a job when there is available work and continuing to file unemployment claims can be considered fraud and potentially disqualify an individual from receiving benefits.
Quitting A Job Without Good Cause
Workers who quit a job without good cause are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If a workplace is operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers applying for unemployment benefits may be required to provide a doctor’s note when their claim is adjudicated. Under current laws, quitting a job due to fear of exposure to COVID-19 without advice from a health care provider is not considered good cause for quitting.
Declining Suitable Work
If an unemployed person is offered a comparable job with comparable wages and hours to their previous job but refuses to accept the offer, they will be disqualified from receiving benefits, under current law.
Benefits obtained through fraudulent means must be repaid. Other possible penalties for unemployment insurance fraud include losing eligibility to receive current and future benefits, forfeiting state and federal income tax refunds, criminal charges, jail time and felony or misdemeanor conviction.
Working Reduced Hours
Workers who are called back by their employer but work reduced hours may still qualify for unemployment benefits. These workers should continue to file weekly claims at and report all earnings. If a worker is earning more than their previous weekly benefit amount, they will not be eligible for benefits that week.
For more information about unemployment benefits, including federal pandemic relief programs provided by the CARES Act, visit www.workforcewv.org.