VEC sends first batch of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits

Pandemic unemployment assistance benefits released

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As of April 25, nearly 570,000 Virginians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 14 and now some people who were not covered by the state program will receive federal benefits.

The first batch of money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act went out early Friday morning in Virginia, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. This will provide an additional $600 to Virginians who have filed for unemployment benefits.

This comes several weeks after Governor Ralph Northam first announced the PUA application form had been posted and Virginians who qualified would likely receive the money shortly after.

“Virginia Employment Commission will begin distributing this money next week, so Virginians who have not filed an initial claim are encourage to call 1-800-897-5630 or visit vec.virginia.gov,” Northam tweeted on April 10. “We’ll continue doing everything we can to support the volume of unemployment claims we’re receiving.”

However, it took until May 1 for that money to finally be sent out after more than 65,000 applications were received to date, a VEC spokeswoman said. More benefits are expected to be sent out sometime next week.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is a way for Virginians who were not eligible under the state unemployment insurance program to get benefits.

“These individuals may include those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, clergy and those working for religious organizations as well as others who may not be covered by the regular/traditional UI program,” the VEC website said.

This also includes employees whose companies does not pay unemployment insurance taxes.

However, in order to receive these benefits you still have to apply for unemployment through the state first, and wait to get denied.

A VEC spokeswoman also said they are trying to send text messages out to those individuals who may qualify for PUA, after being previously denied for benefits.

“VEC: While you may not qualify to receive traditional unemployment from the ate of Virginia, you may be eligible under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the newly passed CARES Act,” the text reads. “Visit www.vec.virginia.gov/html/pusa.html for info and application.”

Once the application has been filed and approved, the individual will have to file weekly claims for under the PUA link.

"The VEC has literally been working around the clock,” said Governor Northam on Friday. “They've updated the system they take these applications through. While things have improved, they've just literally been inundated."

However, as bills pile up as the new month begins, many Virginians are depending on those unemployment benefits to help them out during this difficult time.

"I know a lot of people have received checks,” Northam said. “I'm sure there are some out there who are still waiting, and I regret that because everybody relies on financial assistance."

Many people contacted NBC12 stating they were having issues getting unemployment benefits despite being approved for the state unemployment insurance program.

A VEC spokeswoman said the lack of money may be due to inaccurate or missing information in that claim.

That may include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Proof of wages
  • All employers
  • May have quit vs. furlough or layoff
  • Wages in another state 

If there is an issue you would see “outstanding issue” noted in your account and a notification.

You can log into your account based on the information sent to you in the benefit rights document and monetary determine document you received once your unemployment application was approved/denied.

“If the issue is not cleared up, payments cannot be made,” the VEC spokeswoman said.

You’re encouraged to contact a representative regarding the issue to clear up the matter.

However, there is also the possibility that an individual may not qualify for the state unemployment insurance program, therefore the PUA is the next option to try and receive benefits during this pandemic.

When filing for the state unemployment benefits and the PUA you must file a weekly claim in order to receive the funds.

Once those claims are filed, the VEC says, “you should receive your payment within 14 calendar days after you file your weekly request for payment of benefits. You may not receive your payment on the same day of the week each time you file your request for payment. However, no payment will be issued if you have a separation or able and available issue on your claim, until those issues have been addressed and appropriate action taken on them.”

On April 10, Northam estimated nearly 75,000 Virginia workers who were previously denied benefits under the state program would be able to receive PUA benefits.

As of April 25, nearly 570,000 Virginians had filed for unemployment benefits since March 14, with more than 340,000 follow-up claims filed the week ending April 25.

The graph and chart provides the latest numbers in unemployment applications in weekly claims in Virginia through April 25
The graph and chart provides the latest numbers in unemployment applications in weekly claims in Virginia through April 25 (Source: VEC)

To file for the state unemployment insurance program, click here.

To file for the PUA benefits under the CARES Act, click here.

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