Unemployment in Virginia continue to decline, but questions regarding benefits continue

Map of continued claims filed for unemployment in Virginia for the week ending on Sept. 12.
Map of continued claims filed for unemployment in Virginia for the week ending on Sept. 12.(Virginia Employment Commission)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 4:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — At its peak in April, initial unemployment claims in Virginia rose to 147,000. Since then it has been declining, but many people who are still unemployed due to COVID-19 continue to have questions regarding their benefits.

“Still trying to help people find jobs, and there are plenty of jobs out there. There are over 400,000 on the website that are advertised,” Joyce Fogg with the Virginia Employment Commission said.

However, even with jobs available, the latest numbers show just over 10,000 people are filing an initial claim and more than 201,000 are filing continued claims.

“We’re encouraging people to try to go back, and if they’re called, they should go back because if it gets reported to us they were called back and didn’t go, that stops their benefits,” Fogg said.

For any issues that come up during someone’s unemployment, Fogg said it’s the law that the claim is adjudicated, and that review process could take some time.

“It depends on whether you quit your job and we need to get information from your employer, and we have to wait until we receive that or we’re waiting for some information from the claimant themselves,” Fogg said.

If your claims are being adjudicated, Fogg said you should still file a weekly claim because you could receive back pay for the weeks you were not paid. However, in the meantime, the VEC does not offer any additional resources. Some say they are struggling to pay their bills without their claims.

“You can call 211, which is the state’s number to obtain extra resources. There’s nothing else that we would provide, but there are many other state programs that will assist them,” Fogg said.

People can also track their claims to find out if there is another outstanding issue that caused payments to stop.

“They can go onto that account and they can check how many weeks they have left, how much money is left in their claim, so they can pretty much follow their claim,” Fogg said.

The VEC has extended its call center to be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help people with questions about their claim. Fogg said Saturday mornings may be the best time to reach someone.

“Some people will get through and they’ll keep calling four or five more times. Write your questions down so that when you get through you can ask all of your questions,” Fogg said.

She said VEC staff may have to call you back, and if you miss it, you’ll probably go back down to the bottom of the list.

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