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CHARLESTON — More than 11,000 self-employed workers have applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits since Friday, WorkForce West Virginia announced Tuesday.

While self-employed individuals now have the opportunity to apply for unemployment compensations, WorkForce is required to review and verify each application to determine eligibility based on federal guidelines outlined in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“It’s been a marathon race to get help to our state’s self-employed workers who’ve lost their livelihoods because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WorkForce West Virginia. “But folks can be assured that they will be made whole. With the help of West Virginia National Guard and Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, our staff is making sure we see this thing through to the end.”

The PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment compensation to self-employed people, independent contractors and gig-economy workers who normally don’t qualify for regular state unemployment benefits. Individuals will be notified when their applications are approved and when direct deposit and weekly certifications are available. Payments will be retroactively applied dating back to March 29

Caught up

WorkForce West Virginia has cleared its backlog of claims for unemployment benefits.

By midnight last Wednesday, April 22, WorkForce staff had worked through the agency’s backlog of claims that didn’t have any issues flagged by the system. The agency had received more than 140,000 claims for regular unemployment benefits since March 1.

“There are still some claims we need to manually work through because the claimant listed an incorrect business name, address or personal information,” Adkins said . “But we’re calling these people so we can clean their claim up and get them the help they need.”

The agency said it has distributed nearly $106 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), which provides workers receiving regular benefits an extra $600 each week.

Auto-calls

WorkForce is sending auto-calls to remind claimants to certify their previous week of unemployment and to setup a direct deposit to expedite payment of their benefits.

The fastest way to file for unemployment benefits is online at www.workforcewv.org. A step-by-step guide to filing an initial claim may be found by going to Unemployment section of WorkForce’s website and then clicking the Claimants tab. Those who do not have internet access, have a disability requiring assistive technology or need further assistance should call 1-800-252-JOBS.

It is important to file a new claim immediately after employment ends. To continue receiving benefits, claimants also need to certify their claim for the previous week of unemployment each Sunday after 12:01 p.m. To learn more about filing for unemployment, click here.

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