WV unemployment benefits continue as FEMA ends Lost Wages Assistance Program

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)  While the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended its Lost Wages Assistance Program, Workforce West Virginia says it will continue to pay eligible claimants as long as existing FEMA funds are available.

However, agency officials say they are unable to extend the additional benefits beyond the benefits week ending Sept. 5.

The Lost Wages Assistance Program was designed to provide an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits to qualified claimants in West Virginia as well as other states.

“Losing this extra $300 a week will certainly create hardships for people who’ve lost wages due to COVID-19, but folks can be assured that WorkForce West Virginia will continue to distribute regular state benefits and any remaining federal benefits available through the CARES Act,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WorkForce West Virginia.

WorkForce West Virginia was awarded a grant through the Lost Wages Assistance Program Aug. 27. The funding used $44 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief Funding to provide an additional $300 a week to eligible claimants starting on the benefits week ending on Aug. 1.

WorkForce West Virginia officials say they will continue to provide retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward, in addition to regular state benefits and the extra $100 available through the state’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Other CARES Act provisions do not expire until December 26, 2020, according to Workforce WV officials. These provisions include the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits to workers who have exhausted regular state benefits, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides up to 46 weeks of benefits to self-employed workers or people who would not otherwise qualify for regular state benefits.

WorkForce West Virginia says anyone who believes they may be eligible for unemployment benefits to file a claim online.

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