The Bulletin

Virginia expects to begin distributing $300-a-week unemployment supplement in late September

By: - September 3, 2020 3:58 pm

Virginia’s state flag flies in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

The Virginia Employment Commission said Thursday it expects to begin distributing $300-a-week in additional unemployment benefits in “about two and a half weeks,” which would fall on the week of Sept. 20.

Joyce Fogg, a spokeswoman for the commission, said in an email that text messages will go out to eligible recipients within the next week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved Virginia’s application to participate in the relief program at the end of last month. President Donald Trump announced the aid after Congress was unable to reach a deal to extend the $600-a-week emergency benefits that expired in July.

It remains unclear how long the benefits will last, but officials have said they will be paid retroactively to Aug. 1. That means recipients should receive at least three-weeks worth of the benefits when the money begins to flow, but subsequent weeks could be delayed because the FEMA is capping initial grants at three-weeks worth of benefits and requiring states to reapply for the benefit each subsequent week. Trump capped spending on the program at $44 billion, which would be enough to cover between five and six weeks of benefits depending on how many states sign up.

Not all unemployed Virginians who received the $600 supplement will qualify for the new program, which Trump limited to unemployed people already receiving at least $100 a week in benefits, which are calculated based on past wages, meaning the state’s lowest paid workers will not qualify.

State officials have said the rule excludes about 30,000 of the 260,000 people currently receiving benefits in Virginia.

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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.