WorkForce West Virginia encourages patience while waiting for CARES Act benefits, continues to process state unemployment benefits


CHARLESTON — WorkForce West Virginia is encouraging employees who believe they are eligible for programs under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to remain patient as the agency awaits guidelines for distributing benefits.

Enhanced unemployment benefits provided through the CARES Act will be available to workers who normally don't qualify for regular state unemployment benefits. Benefits include an additional $600 per week in addition to state unemployment benefits, and an additional 13 weeks of payments once someone has exhausted their benefits.

"There's been a lot of confusion over how to apply for CARES Act benefits, so we're telling people to be patient with us while we wait for the funding to become available," said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia. "Folks can be assured that as soon as we get guidelines from the United States Department of Labor, we will make an announcement and provide instructions on how to apply."

Those eligible for CARES Act benefits include people who: 

  • Are self-employed
  • Work for a church or nonprofit
  • Are an independent contractor or gig worker

Other factors that may qualify someone to receive CARES Act benefits include:

  • Being available and able to work, if not for COVID-19
  • Being diagnosed with COVID-19 or providing care to a someone who has been diagnosed
  • Being the primary caregiver for a child unable to attend school as a result of COVID-19
  • Being unable to attend work because of a quarantine or being advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine

While President Donald Trump signed the relief package into law on March 27, the Department of Labor has yet to provide technical guidance or a start date for the program. Benefits will be paid retroactively from the time an employee was separated from their job or otherwise became eligible under the federal CARES Act, not from the time the application was submitted or approved. Further details regarding CARES Act funding is still a few weeks away.

West Virginia Unemployment Benefits
WorkForce West Virginia has extended hours to process the influx of regular state unemployment benefits. Employees are now working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week. The agency also is being helped by 10 members of the West Virginia National Guard, who will help respond to callers with questions about the CARES Act and how to file for unemployment.

"The people processing claims are going above and beyond right now," Adkins said. "They want to be here because they truly care about what they’re doing and want to do everything they possibly can to help people who have been hurt by the Coronavirus."

While Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order in March, directing WorkForce to waive the one-week waiting period to receive benefits, claims still take time to process.

"All we can ask people to do is be patient," Adkins said. "It will take a week or two for you to get benefits, but everything will be paid retroactively. You’ll be made whole."

Where to File
The fastest way to file for benefits is online at www.workforcewv.org. A step-by-step guide to filing an initial claim may be found by going to Unemployment section of WorkForce's website and then clicking the Claimants tab. Those who do not have internet access, have a disability requiring assistive technology or need further assistance should call 1-800-252-JOBS.

When to File
It is important to file a new claim immediately after employment ends. 

How to File
To file an initial claim, applications need to register as a job seeker at www.workforcewv.org. 

After filing an initial claim, a WorkForce West Virginia staff member will contact the applicant by email or by phone. For more information about filing for unemployment and other WorkForce West Virginia services and programs, visit www.workforce.org.

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