RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam says more than 10,000 people across the Commonwealth have filed for unemployment as of Wednesday, with the number only expected to grow.
Northam added new eligibility requirements to file for these benefits with the Virginia Employment Commission in light of ongoing coronavirus concerns.
The program is typically limited to workers who were laid off or had their hours significantly reduced, which is still the case.
However, Northam is now allowing the Commission to approve applications for the following individuals:
- People who are quarantined, either on their own initiative or at the direction of a medical official.
- Caring for a family member who is ill or under quarantine.
- Caring for a child whose school or day care was closed.
"I can say with complete confidence that our claim volume has increased dramatically,” said William Walton, Unemployment Insurance Director for the Virginia Employment Commission.
Walton said claim representatives are working around the clock to process these applications as quickly as possible.
In addition to Northam's previous eligibility requirements, he's also waived the one-week waiting period for benefits and the work-search requirements for affected employees.
"This is done to make the process more seamless and get the compensation out to those who are eligible as soon as we can," Walton said.
You can file for unemployment by phone or online at the Virginia Employment Commission website. However, online is the preferred method versus phone.
"Wait times to speak with a representative will exceed two hours," said a recording at the Employment Commission hotline number.
To file an application, you’ll need the following information;
- Your Social Security Number.
- The accurate employer names, addresses, telephone numbers and dates of employment within the last 18 months.
- The name and local number of your local union hall, if you obtain work through a union.
- Your Alien Registration number if you are not a US citizen.
- If you have any Non-Virginia employers you must have an accurate mailing address, phone number, and dates of employment for them.
- You will be asked to select a method of payment: VA Debit Card or Direct Deposit. If you select Direct Deposit, you will need to have your Routing Number (First 9 digits located at the bottom of your checks) and your Account Number (5-17 digits, its exact location varies from bank to bank).
According to the website, filing the application takes roughly 60 minutes to complete.
If your application is approved, Walton said you’ll then received several documents via the U.S. mail which includes:
- A personal identification number (PIN), so you can log on for future claims.
- A benefit rights document: This tells you what you have to do from week to week to keep you claim active.
- A monetary determination document: This tells you how much you will receive and how long you’re qualified to get unemployment insurance.
"The amount of money someone will receive each week, as a result of the unemployment claim, will vary,” Walton said. “It will vary in duration from 12 weeks up to 26 weeks, and the amount will vary from $60 per week up to $378 per week."
That amount does not include what President Trump and federal officials are working on to help boost unemployment benefits.
According to Walton, the wage calculations are based on your wage history during the period of Oct. 1, 2018 and through Sept. 30, 2019.
“That’s the base period that we look at and all earning during that base period are factored into the calculation to ultimately determine how much money you get per week and how many weeks you’re entitled,” he added.
As for when you could see your first payment directly hit your bank account or be loaded on a state approved debit card, that depends on when you file your claim.
"If you file a claim today (March 19), the claim is in effect from this previous Sunday, which is the 15th, and doesn't end until this Saturday the 21st,” Walton said. “You can't claim the week ending the 21st until it's over. So, when you file for that week on Sunday or Monday, payment should follow in short order."
Walton added anyone who was laid off or had their hours significantly cut due to these coronavirus concerns is encouraged to go ahead and submit an application for unemployment.
More information on filing for unemployment can be found here.
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