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A Detailed Look At Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation In Virginia

Updated : August 3rd, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic has taken the United States by storm. Virginia is one of the states worst hit by both the pandemic and pandemic-induced economic shutdown. According to the reports, more than 600,000 Virginians have lost their jobs since March 2020. As tough it is to lose a job, people struggle to collect unemployment benefits, especially under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. 

To help people with the process, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) has recently launched an online portal. In this article we’ll guide you on the online portal, but before that, let us quickly look at the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation in Virginia. 

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation in Virginia

The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation in Virginia is a federal program announced under the CARES Act in March 2020. It offers an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. The weekly PEUC benefit amount will be the same as that received under the traditional/regular unemployment benefits program.

Benefits under the PEUC program is given only to those who meet the eligibility criteria. Some of the requirements include:

  • The individual must have exhausted all benefits received under the regular unemployment program under the state or federal law that ended after or on July 2019
  • The individual must be capable of taking a job, available to work, and should actively look for work 
  • The individual should certify that he or she is not collecting unemployment benefits with respect under any other Unemployment Compensation law of Canada

Facts About PEUC Program-

  • The first payable week under PEUC program is the week that starts on March 29, 2020, and ends on April 4, 2020
  • The PEUC benefits are taxable
  • The last payable week of PEUC benefits is the week that ends on December 26, 2020

Online Portal For PEUC Program

The Virginia Employment Compensation has witnessed a surge in the number of unemployment claims. Since March, the total claims filed is more than that the Department received throughout 2 years of the Great Recession. The considerable amount of claims has burdened the authorities at VEC, making it challenging for them to process claims in addition to slowing down the VEC website. 

To address these issues, the Employment Commission has taken several steps, such as adding more workforce, updating phone lines, and launching an online portal. 

The link to the online portal is available on the Virginia Employment Commission website. You can apply for PEUC through the newly launched online portal or by calling 1-866-832-2363. Note that due to heavy call volumes, you may experience a longer waiting period. Therefore, we would suggest you apply online.

Why The Claim Gets Denied? 

According to Fogg, the communication manager at VEC, several aspects can lead to denial of unemployment claims. Some of the reasons include not filing their weekly certification, submission of incorrect or partially filled application, not available or being able for work, failing drug tests, or not taking up an offer for suitable employment.

He added, “There may be some valid reasons people refuse work like the applicant has some health issues or is giving child care. In such a scenario, the applicants must appeal, but this process may take some time.” Your benefits will be stopped until your unemployment appeal is heard, and a decision is made,” stated Fogg. 

Further, he said, “If your employer wants you to return to work, go back.” This is because a link is added to the VEC website, which will help employers to report if their employees fail to return to work.

“If you were asked to return to work but refused to go back, your benefits would be stopped until authorities have reviewed your case to determine if there was any good cause,” said Fogg. 

Applying For Regular Unemployment Benefits In Virginia

As said earlier, you have to exhaust your regular unemployment benefits to qualify for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation in Virginia. If you are unemployed but haven’t applied for the traditional benefits, apply for now one. 

To apply for regular unemployment benefits, visit the Virginia Employment Compensation website, and choose the relevant option. While applying, you will be required to enter several details like:

  • Your name
  • Address 
  • Contact information
  • Name of your recent employer
  • Dates of employment 
  • Reason for leaving the job
  • Work search reports

You can also apply by calling the VEC Customer Contact Center at 1-866-832-2363. The Customer Contact Center will be open Monday – Friday, 8:15 AM to 4:30 PM, and will be closed on state holidays. 

While filing a claim, you will be asked to choose the mode of payment. You can choose either a debit card or direct deposit. For direct deposit, you have to provide routing numbers and bank account details.  

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for regular unemployment benefits, you must meet several requirements. They include:

  • You have lost through no fault of your own
  • You are able, available, or actively looking for work
  • You must have minimum wages before being unemployed

Monetary Requirements

Like every other state, your work history and wages will be considered while processing your application. The unemployment payment and the period (i.e., 12 to 26 weeks) will be decided based on your gross wages. 

When you apply for unemployment, you will receive a Monetary Determination. It includes your base period earnings, the maximum number of weeks you can collect benefits, and weekly benefit amount. 

Make sure to review the Monetary Determination thoroughly. If the base period wages shown are incorrect, contact VEC Customer Contact Center and provide correct information. You may be asked to Email or fax proof of proper wages to the Customer Contact Center. 

Note that the Monetary entitlement will last for 1 year following your UI claim or benefits exhaustion date. 

Closing Thoughts

VEC is taking all possible measures to fasten the application process and pay your benefits. If you have applied for PEUC but haven’t received it yet, you can reach out to the Customer Contact Center. Meanwhile, look for suitable opportunities at http://jobs.virginia.gov/

 

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