Unemployed West Virginians got some good news today regarding their weekly benefits. Starting next week, Workforce West Virginia will begin paying the additional $400 which has been made available through the Lost Wages Assistance Program. This includes $300 provided by FEMA, and another $100 contributed by the state.
During his coronavirus media-briefing on Wednesday, September 9, Gov. Jim Justice spoke at length about the news.
“I am very happy to announce that early next week our $400, which is $300 from the feds and $100 from the state, are going to start flowing to all those that are in bad need. It’s taken a while, and the reason it’s taken a while is before we got the go-ahead from FEMA, we had to devise our own system to be able to administer the monies and get the monies going out. Keep in mind this too: we were one of only four states that stepped up to the plate and said we were going to do the extra $100,” Justice said.
He then attempted to reassure his constituents that every measure has been taken to prevent fraudulent claims, saying: “I think you know the effort to try to prevent fraud and everything, and create a system that was able to keep us, and the people invading, you know, the fraud situation is surely rampant in a lot of different places. We’ve caught instances of people doing the wrong thing, and we’ve missed it. Temporarily, they won.”
Justice then touched on the subject of eviction, pointing out that there is very little he can do to prevent landlords from taking this step.
“I can plead with the landlords, and I do. Please, please don’t evict people now,” Justice said. “But I cannot make law.”
Later in the briefing, Scott Adkins, Director of Workforce West Virginia provided further details.
“Beginning next week, the week of September 14, Workforce will start paying an additional $400 per week in LWA unemployment benefits to those who qualify. Currently West Virginia is approved to pay 5-weeks of benefits, retroactive to the week ending August 1, running through the week ending August 29.”
Those who are eligible for the benefit will receive their 5-week payment in one lump sum of $2,000. Payments will be made in the form of paper-check or direct deposit (depending on the unemployed person’s current arrangement) and all applicable taxes will be deducted.
Mr. Adkins went on to say that in order “to be eligible for the $400 in LWA, recipients must receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits.”
Additionally, the unemployed person must certify that they are unemployed or underemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. If for any reason a filer does not meet the $100 FEMA benefit-requirement, they may still be eligible to receive the extra $100 from W.Va.
“West Virginia is the only state in the Union providing this benefit, and it will impact nearly 15,000 families,” Adkins stated.
It should also be noted that once the funds made available by FEMA through the Lost Wages Assistance Program have been exhausted, the additional benefit to unemployed individuals will cease.