Virginia and other states will await federal guidance before delivering unemployment benefits

Virginia News

In this photo illustration, a person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Employment Commission said Wednesday it will work to implement unemployment insurance provisions in the new COVID-19 relief package “as soon as possible,” but that the agency is still waiting on federal guidance on how to move forward.

The legislation, which was passed by Congress on Dec. 21 and signed by President Donald Trump a day after unemployment aid lapsed, extends benefit programs created under the CARES Act for 11 weeks through March 13: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

Federal aid from the FPUC will be $300 per week under the new bill, half of what the original CARES Act provided unemployed workers.

Those applying for PUA will now be required to provide proof of their employment or self-employment and state agencies must now enact procedures to verify and validate PUA claimants’ identities.

It remains unclear whether Virginia will opt into the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, which was established under the new federal relief bill and provides an extra $100 in benefits to people who earned a mix of regular wages and a minimum of $5,000 of self-employed annual income in 2019. These individuals file W-2s and 1099 forms used by self-employed workers but when applying for aid, they have only received unemployment benefits using their income from W-2s and not their other earnings.

Specific details on how the VEC will put the legislation in place will depend on guidance the state gets from the U.S. Department of Labor and the agency said certain provisions could still change.

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