Struggle with unemployment, PUA payments continue after ‘system issue’

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Hundreds of people across the state are struggling because they have not received unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments. During Governor Justice’s daily briefing Wednesday, Workforce West Virginia acting commissioner Scott Adkins addressed a reason why.

The delay in payment has caused many West Virginia residents anxiety.

“Stressed!” small business owner Kimberly Smith described her mindset. “Every day, waking up seeing that zero dollar balance be where it’s supposed to be, so you can’t take care of the things you’ve got to take care of. And every day, it’s just zero, zero, zero.”

Smith co-owns Out of the Way Pet Grooming in Nutter Fort. They were forced to shut down because of the pandemic, and filed for help a week later. Unfortunately, “zero” seems to be the reality for many other small business owners, contractors and those on unemployment.

“When we first said that, ‘okay, all our self-employed and gig workers could apply’, the system went down,” said Monongalia County Delegate, Danielle Walker. She is just one of many representatives and leaders engaged in an uphill battle to keep their communities, and the families in them, afloat at the hands of an overloaded system.

“SNAP benefits take 30 days to be approved. You can’t afford the COBRA insurance. What are we to do?” 

Delegate Danielle Walker, (R) Mon County

Meanwhile, small business owners like Smith are on the front lines, wondering what comes next. She has re-opened in the past week, but she is still missing money.

“There was no income coming in,” she said. “So now we have back bills from my home location as well as my business.” 

Several other people reached out to 12 News with claims of expected payment dates but said they never received money. However, many said they had heard of a glitch in the system. On Wednesday, during the press briefing, there were finally some answers.

“Workforce recently identified a system issue with the PUA claims for paydates of May 12th through May 13th,” explained acting Workforce WV commissioner Scott Adkins.

Workforce WV addresses delayed payments

Until the briefing on Wednesday, many told 12 News the information came too late.

“The communication has failed from the top bottom,” Walker exclaimed. “These people need real answers.”

According to Workforce, people waiting on PUA with debit cards and direct deposit should be paid by Friday. Adkins also said the issue of over-payment in some situations has been fixed. For those still in the the red say they’re still left with so many questions.

“If there’s a glitch or a mess up in the system,” asked Smith, “how are they getting their one week but we’re not getting our back pay?” 

The latest information is available on the Workforce West Virginia website and can be found here.

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