Breaking down new WV pandemic unemployment assistance

Local News

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia is working to get extra unemployment funds to those affected by COVID-19.

The state received $68.3 million in FEMA funds on Friday, which will help back pay people for the month of August; the month where no one was receiving extra pandemic assistance.

“Finally that money is coming to West Virginia,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WV Workforce. “We just got it on Friday, and just got the guidance, so we’re working… I can assure you… as hard as we possibly can.”

At the end of July, the extra $600 people were receiving for ‘Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,’ or ‘PUA,’ ended. For the month of August, they only received regular unemployment benefits.

“It’s been bad. very, very bad,” said Summer Pelley, a mother who hasn’t seen extra help for a month. “I only get $314 a week. I’m raising two children, and I’m receiving $314 a week. I mean it’s unacceptable. And it’s not our fault, because we didn’t ask to have reduced hours… or no hours… like I work at a hospital. You would never think my hours would be affected because I work in a hospital. But sure enough, it was.”

Adkins says the reason it’s taken so long to get these FEMA funds, is because they’ve never had to do it before.

“Just like the PUA system,” he said. “With independent contractors and self-employed it took us a while because we had never served those people before. And the criteria is completely different. These are FEMA dollars. Workforce has never used FEMA dollars before.”

Now, those receiving unemployment benefits will soon see an extra $400 – $300 from federal, and $100 from the state. 

Adkins says in order to qualify, “You have to have that $100 in a weekly benefit eligibility, you also have to attest your unemployment is due to COVID-19.”

There are roughly 15,000 West Virginians who do not currently receive more than $100 from Workforce WV. Those people do not qualify for the $300 from federal funding.

“It’s my understanding West Virginia is the only state in the nation to do this – he (the Governor) will offer them the extra $100 in state funding,” said Adkins.

Even those who do not make more than $100 a week in benefits will get that extra $100 from the state.

Now, in order to qualify for the extra benefits, all people will need to do is check a box on the weekly certification they’re already filling out.

WOWK 13 News Reporter Cassidy Wood asked if there is a timeline on when individuals will actually see the money hit their accounts, and they couldn’t give one yet. 

We will continue to follow this, and will update you on air and online.


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