Payments now going out from delayed unemployment program

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Initial payments have begun to laid-off workers under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which Virginia lagged most other states in getting up and running.
The program referred to as PEUC provides up to an additional 13 weeks of regular unemployment insurance to individuals who have already exhausted their benefits.
Payments through the federally funded program began Tuesday and are available through the week ending December 26, the Virginia Employment Commission said in a news release Thursday. The commission has paid out $9.9 million on over 12,000 claims so far, officials said.
More than 41,000 individuals are potentially eligible. The commission said they were contacted by phone or text message last week ahead of the launch of the application portal last Thursday.
The Associated Press reported in May that Virginia was behind most states in implementing the benefit. Many of those who qualify lost their jobs long before the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. Some told the AP and other news outlets that they were in desperate need of help and were barely making ends meet as they waited for the program to be implemented.
Commission officials said the delay was caused by the extensive programming changes necessary to an antiquated system.
Payments can take up to three business days to reach a recipient’s account and will be retroactive, according to the commission, which has been dealing with an unprecedented flood of applications for assistance.
In the past 16 weeks, since around the time shutdown measures were implemented to help slow the spread of the virus, there have been a total of 938,559 initial claims filed in Virginia, the commission said Thursday. That figure surpasses all initial claims filed from mid-September 2014 to mid-March 2020.