This only makes sense. Virginians applying for unemployment benefits will not be required to continue to adhere to the requirement to submit two job applications per week in order to qualify for the benefit that week. This affects both new applicants and current beneficiaries. Additionally the benefit waiting period has been waived.
What newly eligible claimants won’t know about Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Unemployment claims and workforce services options:
The local Virginia Employment Commission offices will be open even though there will be no in-person assistance in the short term. The offices are closed to the public due to the Governor’s orders. The offices are “open” 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday and the state employees are there. They are taking phone calls and giving guidance on the UI application process.
Because they are closed to the public for walk-in, you may call any of the local offices with questions.
In Virginia there are basically two ways to file unemployment. This process has been in place for many years now. You may file online at the VEC Website. Due to high demand, that is probably the fastest way to file a claim. Or you may call the customer contact centers.
The customer contact centers are experiencing extremely high volume and very, very long wait times. The toll-free number (866-832-2363) is a bit further down the web page from the Online Claims section. Call centers are open Monday through Friday 8:15 am to 4:30 pm.
Recommendation: don’t begin the process of filing a claim until you have completed your last work week. Those are Sunday to Saturday weeks. Wait at least until the Sunday following the week you last work.
Whichever option you choose, there are several pieces of information you will need to complete the process in order to ensure your claim goes through as smoothly as possible:
- Social Security number
- Accurate employer information for all employers you have worked for the past 18 months
- Contact phone number to an HR or administrative section
- Dates of employment
During the process you are going to asked where you would like your weekly benefit sent. The option to have it delivered by direct deposit is strongly recommended. In order to do that, you will need the name of your bank, your bank’s nine-digit routing number, and the account number you want it delivered to. This is typically found at the bottom of a check if you are using your checking account. Do not rely on the routing number at the bottom of a checkbook deposit slip. Though often the same, one megabank uses varying deposit slip codes.
If you are unbanked or you are at risk of deposits being garnished or attached, you do have the default option of a type of debit card system.
The changes ordered by the Governor in response to this crisis will expedite receipt and maintenance of claims. There is traditionally a one week waiting period for UI benefits while the administrative action is taken on the account. The waiting period has been waived for all claims filed starting today and going forward until further notice. The other change is the lifting of the two job application per week reporting requirement.
There are some things that can affect your pay as you collect your weekly UI benefit. If you earn some money, a temporary or part-time job or you perform some tasks for pay (even if the payment is sometime in the future), you will be asked to report the hours you worked that week for someone. You are required to report any earnings you have during that week. That will be analyzed to see whether or not it will affect your weekly payment.
You may earn $50 a week without it affecting your weekly check. You report all the dollars but if it is $50 or less it will not affect your benefit. Anything over $50 will be deducted on a dollar for dollar basis for that particular week.
After you file your claim you are going to receive several items in the mail. First is a letter stating that your claim has been received and it is being reviewed. Second will be your monetary determination.
How much will I get?
There is no simple way to estimate. The entitlement is based upon the wage analysis of the last 18-month period. In Virginia, the minimum qualifying amount is $60 per week for a 12-week draw. The maximum amount that anyone can receive is $378 per week for a 26-week draw. Those payments can be made any time during a one-year period.
If a week goes by where you do not qualify, perhaps because you had a temporary job for one week, the benefit payment will not be issued for that week but will be held in reserve and available for you in the future. The weeks do not have to be drawn out sequentially.
You will also receive a six-digit PIN in the mail. You cannot begin doing your weekly claims until that PIN arrives. When it does arrive, you are advised to go online and file your first weekly claim. From that point on, file your claim on a Sunday or a Monday after a week has ended. Remember that unemployment uses a Saturday midnight to Saturday midnight week. Most people file on a Sunday or a Monday to ensure receipt of payment during that week.
Finally, you will receive a summary of your benefit rights and responsibilities (also available on the VEC website).
You are encouraged to go to the VEC website regularly to stay abreast of developments. It is an impressive tool where you can file your initial claim, your weekly claims, and do job search. Many will be actively looking for work during this period.
You are also encouraged to make sure your registration is complete up to and including having a resume submitted on the site. This way you will be prepared for the inevitable day when the work search waiver is lifted. Having a resume in the system will greatly simplify life when that time comes.
As you have questions about filing your claim, call around the local offices. They won’t all be equally busy.