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WorkForce West Virginia offices are pictured on April 3 in Huntington. West Virginia officials announced the launching of lost wages assistance payments grant through the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Unemployed workers due to COVID-19-related impacts in West Virginia will soon get a bump of $400 in their weekly jobless benefits.

The payment will be automatically added to the weekly benefit amount they are already receiving, and qualified claimants do not need to file a separate application to get the additional funds.

Thirty-five states, including Kentucky and Ohio, have received federal approval to offer “lost wages assistance,” created by an executive measure that President Donald Trump signed Aug. 8.

On Aug. 20, the state of Kentucky agreed to administer a lost wages program for its citizens who are unemployed due to COVID-19.

Ohio was also approved in August, but officials there said the state cannot afford to boost the benefit by the additional $100 requested by Trump.

Funding for the program comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and directs federal disaster-relief funds to unemployed workers, following the lapse of a $600-a-week federal supplement to unemployment benefits at the end of July. That prior subsidy had been enacted by the CARES Act in March.

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor approved West Virginia for a grant of $68,269,946 under this program.

“The pandemic and economic slowdown have caused hardships for many of our fellow West Virginians,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a joint press release with WorkForce West Virginia. “We are moving as quick as we can to give some relief to our people whose incomes have been hard hit.”

West Virginia’s program will cover $300 of the new weekly payment, and the other $100 will come from West Virginia’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, according to the release, and that’s in addition to the weekly benefit amount they receive from certain other unemployment compensation programs.

“We are making carrying out this program a priority,” Scott Adkins, acting commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia, said in the release.

To qualify for this additional funding, claimants must self-certify that they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.

He said the first week for which the lost wages assistance payment will be available is benefit week ending Aug. 1.

“WorkForce West Virginia will provide retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward,” Adkins said.

The duration of payment is dependent on the terms of the president’s memorandum, Adkins added.

“The payment could end in a matter of weeks, if FEMA funding is exhausted or the federal government enacts new law, similar to the recently expired Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, to supplant the Lost Wages Assistance payment,” Adkins said.

The program will end no later than Dec. 27, 2020.

WorkForce West Virginia encourages anyone who believes they may be eligible for unemployment benefits to file a claim online at www. workforcewv.org.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.