While the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left many people isolated, it has also left a large number of people without jobs.
As the virus continues to shut-down businesses for the foreseeable future, many are learning how to file for unemployment for the first time.
The Virginia Employment Commission typically sees about 200 unemployment benefit applications a day around this time of year, according to a VEC representative.
Recently, that number has spiked to 2,000 applications a day.
Here are five things you need to know about filing for unemployment during the coronavirus:
- When to apply: For those who have become totally or partially unemployed due to the coronavirus, claims for unemployment insurance cannot be filed or processed until the actual lay-off or reduction in hours has occurred. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, claims should be filed after an individual has been out of work for at least one full day.
- How to apply: Individuals can contact the Virginia Employment Commission Customer Contact Center at 866-832-2363 or complete an online application. Applicants will be asked to provide the name, address and and telephone number of their last employer. Additionally, they will provide their dates of employment and reason for separation. Once this information is provided, the Virginia Employment Commission will decide if an individual meets monetary eligibility, separation qualifications and weekly eligibility.
- Who can apply: When an individual files for unemployment benefits, they should make sure to check the reason for separation as “Lack of Work” or “Lay Off.” Benefits will not be distrusted to those who are filing because of a reduction in hours if their gross earning is less than their weekly benefit amount. The current maximum weekly benefit amount is $378.
- How much: The amount a person can receive for unemployment benefits depends on their earnings. The range is a minimum of $60 per week for 12 weeks or up to $378 a week for 26 weeks. Benefit computation tables are available on the Virginia Employment Commission website.
- Payment timeline: Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam directed that the typical one-week waiting period and requirement to conduct a weekly job search be suspended for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Starting March 15, all unemployment claims will be processed shortly after an individual claims their first full week. During the application process, applicants will be asked to select an electronic payment method to receive their benefits. Applicants can choose either direct deposit or a debit card.
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