Out-of-work Virginia man 'hasn't seen a cent' since December; VEC blames extension delay on feds

Northam: 'Some people still have not received these benefits'
Virginia Unemployment Commission
Posted at 11:51 PM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-06 19:13:54-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- When the arcade Alex Branch worked in shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic last March, he immediately applied for unemployment and received it.

But when he tried to go back to work there "the arcade eventually opened back up, but the owner couldn't really hire anyone else back. It was a bare bones machine," Branch said.

So Branch, who lives in Collinsville, Virginia, continued to search for work and receive benefits.

But at the end of December, the benefits stopped despite the fact that then-President Donald Trump extended the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation that Branch qualified for.

"We've been waiting since Trump signed that extension. It's pretty much been nothing for us, we haven't seen a cent, we haven't even seen an update to tell us when to expect it," Branch said.

Branch said the Virginia Employment Commission posted on its website back in January that the benefits would be ready on January 27, but that never happened.

"It got to January 25th, and I checked the website again, and they erased that part. It was gone. It simply said the implementation date has changed, more information was forthcoming, and it has not switched from that notice for two weeks," Branch said.

Governor Ralph Northam acknowledged Branch and others concerns at his press conference on Friday.

"I know some people still have not received these benefits, and they’re frustrated," Northam said.

He gave a date when they could expect to receive extended PEUC benefits.

"The employment commission hopes to have the last piece of this program up and running by Tuesday, and more information will go out to people tonight," Northam said.

Joyce Fogg, a spokeswoman for the VEC, said the delay is due to the fact that the VEC requested guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor on January 12, and they did not receive a response until January 27.

Fogg said an update regarding extended PEUC benefits would be posted on the VEC website on Friday.

The PEUC extension will launch at 4 p.m. Tuesday, February 9, and the VEC call center will extend its hours that day to help customers with the new program, according to Fogg.