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WorkForce West Virginia sends out $70 million in PUA benefits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More than 16,000 workers in West Virginia who filed for unemployment under the newly-created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have received their first payments from WorkForce West Virginia.

WorkForce acting Commissioner Scott Adkins said the funds were transferred late Monday night and early Tuesday morning into bank accounts by direct deposits or onto cards if that’s the option the claimant chose.

Adkins said the benefits totaled more than $70 million including $18 million in PUA minimum payments ($158 weekly) and $51.6 million in the $600-a-week payments through the CARES Act.

More than 18,000 workers have signed up for PUA. It’s workers who usually don’t qualify for unemployment like self-contractors and freelancers but are now eligible for the new program created because of the pandemic. Adkins said about 2,000 claimants still haven’t received their initial payments.

“Some of the folks who filed for PUA should have filed for regular unemployment. Some of the claim forms are incomplete and we’re in the process of trying to call those folks back,” Adkins said Tuesday on MetroNews “Talkline.”

Some claimants received a significant amount of money Tuesday. It’s $158 for each week they’ve been unemployed plus $600 a week for each week since March 29.

WorkForce still must finalize most of the 18,000 claims and it’s possible weekly amounts will go up for some of the claimants. Adkins said it’s also possible some have been overpaid.

“If there is an over-payment it’s going to be as minimal as possible but we do expect some,” he said.

PUA claims are more labor intensive for WorkForce because the claimants are self-employed and their income information has to be received and entered manually.

Adkins said for those who chose to get their benefits on a card, they should check their mail carefully. He said some have unfortunately thrown their cards away. He said the cards have no special markings on them for security reasons.

“It doesn’t have KeyBank card on the front of it. It doesn’t WorkForce on the front of it. It comes in a plain white envelope and we’ve seen a lot of folks throw those away not recognizing that it’s their unemployment benefits,” Adkins said. “If that happens to you, call us and we’ll send you another card.”

More than 200,000 workers in West Virginia have filed for either regular unemployment or PUA since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

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