Unemployed Virginians will have to wait to get $300 in extra weekly benefits

Virginia News

A VEC spokeswoman cited a "programming error" for the delay, telling 8News on Tuesday that the agency is "working to pay as soon as possible, hopefully prior to the 15th."

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Unemployed workers in Virginia may have to wait a little longer than they expected to get $300 in extra weekly benefits after the Virginia Employment Commission pushed back its target date to begin payments through the Lost Wages Assistance program from the end of September until Oct. 15.

VEC spokeswoman Joyce Fogg cited a “programming error” for the delay, telling 8News on Tuesday that the agency is “working to pay as soon as possible, hopefully prior to the 15th.”

Virginians eligible for the LWA benefit should have received a message giving instructions on how to verify that they were out of a job due to disruptions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Those claimants, who also must be eligible for at least $100-a-week in unemployment benefits, will not need to file a separate application to receive the federal supplement.

Fogg told 8News that roughly 29,700 of the 260,000 Virginians currently receiving benefits won’t be eligible for the additional $300.

The federal aid will be paid to unemployed workers retroactively, according to VEC, which means that those who are eligible should get benefits from Aug. 1. to Sept. 5., the duration of the Lost Wages Assistance program, in one large sum.

“I’m like, ‘this can’t be real. Is this a joke?'” asked Michelle Blankenship of Prince George. She wants answers—hoping to find out why the start of six weeks of $300 payments would be delayed.

“For it to be continuously held out like a carrot, and we are all moving towards that carrot, and then when we get close to the carrot they move the carrot again,” she said.

Tuesdsay night, the VEC tells 8News 454,650 people are eligible for the these payments. As of yesterday morning, they say, they received 72,000 submissions. 

The VEC says the LWA program is from the federal government, separate from typical unemployment benefits. FEMA granted program funds to Virginia.

“It’s a real struggle, it’s a real struggle to pay your bills every week,” Blankenship said. “As soon as the money hits your account, it’s gone because you already promised it to somebody else.”

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