‘Let’s hurry up!’: W.Va. Senator calling governor to put unemployment claims first

West Virginia

A letter to Governor Jim Justice says if steps aren't taken, many West Virginians won't receive full benefits.

WHEELING, WV (WTRF) – West Virginia leaders are saying the unemployment records will hit worse than that of the Great Depression. This week alone, national unemployment claims will be greater than 32%.

As the President’s CARES Act is to pump $2.2-trillion into the American economy, one West Virginia senator wants to make sure his state is seeing the full benefits from that purse.​ ​

In a bullet point letter, Senator William Ihlenfeld is calling for pivotal steps to be taken by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.​ And if those steps aren’t taken now, he says full benefits for some West Virginia workers will fall through the cracks.​ ​

A record number of claims are being filed, and the rate at which they are being filed is more than what the state can handle.​ This week over 10% of the workforce will file an unemployment claim in West Virginia; that’s over 100,000 workers.​ ​

The CARES Act makes it so that while on unemployment, workers can collect $1,000 a week for the first 16 weeks of claims.​ But right now free-lancers, independent contractors, low-wage workers, etc. are left out of the state’s unemployment compensation network.​

The problem isn’t funding. The money is there, but someone like a gig-worker is just unable to apply since they are not set-up in the traditional system.​ ​

Our software in Charleston is not set-up to accommodate these types of claims. The governor needs to make sure it is.

That’s what’s frustrating for a lot of people; is that they can’t even apply for any type of unemployment compensation right now​ because the state is unable at this time to process those claims, which is the other part of my letter. Governor C’mon.​ Let’s hurry up! Let’s get this in place. Let’s allow everyone to apply for unemployment compensation as contemplated by the CARES Act.

William Ihlenfeld, W.Va. Senator, 1st District

The quicker the state can process the claims, the faster West Virginians can get groceries and pay rent. ​ So, the senator is also asking for state personnel to get on-board and for the governor to hire however many workers necessary to take the calls and process the claims.​

Federal stimulus checks haven’t come in yet and Ihlenfeld says people are getting desperate.​

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