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Virginia PEUC application now online, unemployed workers express "relief" after 3-month wait

The PEUC program provides a 13-week extension to workers whose benefits expired as the job crisis hit, leaving them without work or unemployment assistance.

NORFOLK, Va. — Thousands of Virginians can now apply for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, the final step before the distribution of long-awaited benefits.

After more than three months of delays and calls for a quicker implementation of the PEUC program, VEC sent out text messages to 35,000 people who could be eligible for benefit extensions.

Unemployed workers tell 13News Now Investigative Reporter Evan Watson that they feel relieved and hopeful that benefits will finally arrive next week. Many said they were out of options, waiting on a program to help them through the coronavirus-related job crisis.

“God will never give you more than you can handle, but sometimes it’s like, okay, I’m only this tall... I can’t handle anymore,” said Steve Morrin, an unemployed sales manager in the Williamsburg timeshare industry. 

The PEUC program provides a 13-week extension to people who exhausted their benefits right when the job crisis hit. Airelle Jackson said she had become desperate for assistance.

“I was getting a job lined up, going for an interview, and then things got shut down," Jackson said. "The bills don’t stop so I had to pay the car note, they’re calling, the insurance - which is canceled now - had to pack up and move, live with my parents and I don’t have any money to take care of [my son.]”

But now, an application is online. The program is ready. The Virginia Employment Commission says "payments to recipients are scheduled to start next week."

“I probably will come to tears, I will be so happy," Jackson said. "I will be able to buy the things I need for my son and find a place to live.”

The first payment will include a retroactive lump sum for missed months of benefits. After three months without earnings, some people could receive thousands, potentially up to $9,000. 

Unemployed workers said they now feel close to receiving the long-awaited benefits.

“I’ll feel relieved, I’ll feel relieved that they actually picked up and said what they were going to for the first time," Morrin said. 

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