CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice has directed WorkForce West Virginia to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance Payments grant through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
“As I have said, we cannot let our people that are sitting out there with no job – not knowing how in the world they’re going to pay rent, or keep from being evicted, or making their car payment, or putting food on the table – just sit out there and wilt on the vine,” Gov. Justice said. “We’ve got to get some money flowing to help West Virginians in need.”
Upon approval by FEMA, this grant will allow WorkForce West Virginia to provide an additional $400 per week in assistance payment to those receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits due to COVID-related impacts. FEMA disaster relief funds will cover $300 of the new weekly payment and the other $100 will come from West Virginia’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. Lost Wage Assistance was established after Congress did not reauthorize the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an extra $600 payment to eligible UI claimants.
“At Governor Justice’s direction WorkForce West Virginia is taking quick action to apply for Lost Wages Assistance Payments and put the extra payments into the hands of eligible West Virginians whose livelihoods have been impacted,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia. “The federal government requires each state to set up a system that complies with the program. We are in the process of doing that now.”
To qualify for this additional funding, claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
The first week for which the Lost Wages Assistance payment will be available is UI benefit week ending August 1. WorkForce West Virginia will provide retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward. The duration of payment is dependent on the terms of the President’s Memorandum. The payment could end in a matter of weeks, if FEMA funding is exhausted or the federal government enacts new law, similar to the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, to supplant the Lost Wages Assistance payment. It will end no later than December 27, 2020.
WorkForce West Virginia continues to encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI to file a claim online at www.workforcewv.org. The site includes information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Those with technical, eligibility, or benefits questions are also encouraged to visit www.workforcewv.org. A variety of information for both West Virginia workers and employers is available including resources to help claimants navigate the unemployment process.