WV WorkForce ready to roll-out extended benefits, $2.2 billion paid out so far

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Struggling West Virginians on unemployment will soon see the extra $300 extended pandemic unemployment benefits start to kick in.

Since the pandemic began, WorkForce West Virginia has processed more than 600,00 unemployment claims.

According to Scott Adkins, their acting commissioner, they were awaiting further direction from the U.S. Department of Labor to proceed with the new benefits, they’ve now received it and they plan to roll them out early this week.

The most important thing people can do right now says Adkins is to not file a new application if you’re already receiving benefits.

“If you file a new application without workforce telling you to, it’s going to put a hold on your claim, and it could cause a delay in you receiving your benefits,” he said.

Instead, he says those already on PUEC or PUA should keep filing as usual and check their inboxes for new messages.

To date, WorkForce West Virginia has paid out $2.2 billion in unemployment benefits since mid-March.

“And that’s with a b, that’s huge, that’s half of the state budget,” said Adkins.

Never before has the agency paid out this much money.

It’s all federal dollars says Adkins, they just process the claims.

“If it costs $100 million, we just draw down $100 million, if it costs $200 million — same thing, there’s no cap,” he said.

Still, with so many claims to process it has cost WorkForce West Virginia nearly $4 million in administrative costs and $200 million in state tax dollars from West Virginia employers.

Making this all harder says Adkins, are fraudulent claims.

“We’ve received more than 250,000 fraudulent claims, some of those claims are still being processed.”

The new extended benefits expire on the week ending on March 13th.

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