FEMA ends lost wages assistance, WV unemployment benefits to continue

CHARLESTON, W.VA. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended its Lost Wages Assistance Program, which provided an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits to qualified claimants in West Virginia and other states.

WorkForce West Virginia will continue to pay eligible claimants for as long as existing FEMA funds are available, but agency officials say they are unable to extend the additional benefits beyond the benefits week ending on Sept. 5.

“Losing this extra $300 a week will certainly create hardships for people who’ve lost wages due to COVID-19, but folks can be assured that WorkForce West Virginia will continue to distribute regular state benefits and any remaining federal benefits available through the CARES Act,” said Scott Adkins, acting commissioner for WorkForce West Virginia.

On Aug. 27, WorkForce West Virginia was awarded a grant through the Lost Wages Assistance Program, which used $44 billion in FEMA Disaster Relief Funding to provide an additional $300 a week to eligible claimants starting on the benefits week ending on Aug. 1. WorkForce West Virginia will continue providing retroactive payments to eligible claimants from that week forward, in addition to regular state benefits and the extra $100 made available through the state’s allocation of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Other provisions of the CARES Act do not expire until December 26, 2020. This includes Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides an extra 13 weeks of benefits to workers who have exhausted regular state benefits, and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides up to 46 weeks of benefits to self-employed workers or people who would not otherwise qualify for regular state benefits.

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