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WorkForce West Virginia offices are pictured on April 3 in Huntington. Gov. Jim Justice has directed WorkForce West Virginia to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance payments grant through the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has directed WorkForce West Virginia to apply for the Lost Wages Assistance payments grant through the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

“As I have said, we cannot let our people that are sitting out there with no job — not knowing how in the world they’re going to pay rent, or keep from being evicted, or making their car payment, or putting food on the table — just sit out there and wilt on the vine,” Justice said in a news release announcing the application. “We’ve got to get some money flowing to help West Virginians in need.”

Once approved by FEMA, this grant will allow WorkForce West Virginia to provide an additional $400 per week in assistance payment to those receiving unemployment insurance (UI) benefits due to COVID-19-related impacts, according to the release.

FEMA disaster relief funds 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, the release said.

The Lost Wages Assistance program was established after Congress did not reauthorize the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provided an extra $600 payment to eligible UI claimants.

“At Gov. Justice’s direction, WorkForce West Virginia is taking quick action to apply for Lost Wages Assistance payments and put the extra payments into the hands of eligible West Virginians whose livelihoods have been impacted,” Scott Adkins, acting commissioner of WorkForce West Virginia, said in the release. “The federal government requires each state to set up a system that complies with the program. We are in the process of doing that now.”

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

The first week for which the Lost Wages Assistance payment will be available is UI benefit week ending Aug. 1, according to the release.

“WorkForce West Virginia will provide retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward,” the release said. “The duration of payment is dependent on the terms of the president’s memorandum. 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. It will end no later than Dec. 27, 2020.”

Anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI can file a claim online at www.workforcewv.org. The site includes information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. A variety of information for both workers and employers is available, including resources to help claimants navigate the unemployment process.