RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Employment Commission shared important updates today for customers on return to work, eligibility requirements, and fraud. Since the beginning of the pandemic, VEC has received over 1.5 million claims, a ten times or an over 1000% increase from the previous year. With over $12.2 billion in benefits paid, and a third round of changes for multiple programs, VEC continues to administer these programs which have crushed all previous records for the unemployment insurance program.
Return to Work
The VEC will soon begin notifying customers for the reinstatement of the weekly work search requirement. This requirement, a part of state and federal law, was temporarily suspended during the pandemic. This requirement will apply to all customers, including those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), to apply for at least 2 jobs each week. “Customers are normally required to actively look for work while collecting unemployment benefits,” said Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess, Virginia Employment Commission. “With increased vaccination access, first in the nation workplace safety regulations, and a robust demand for workers from businesses, Virginia will resume collecting and reviewing work search activity of customers in the near future,” added Hess.
- Individuals receiving unemployment benefits will be required to actively apply for at least 2 jobs each week in order to receive their benefits.
- Individuals will be required to report details of their job search activity each week to the VEC for review.
- Individuals will not be eligible for benefits for any week they fail to make the required job search.
- VEC plans to begin notifying customers in May with additional details regarding these changes.
To assist Virginians searching for employment opportunities, the VEC will be working with the Virginia Career Works Centers across the Commonwealth. “We are here to help unemployed Virginians successfully rejoin the state’s workforce,” said Hess, “and to help connect job seekers with the additional resource services they may need to return to work, including child care.” Customers who want more information about child care and financial assistance for child care can visit www.childcareva.com.
VEC also issued an important reminder for customers regarding ongoing eligibility for benefits. Individuals receiving unemployment benefits must be able and available for work each week they claim benefits. This requirement also applies to the PUA program. As part of weekly filing, customers must accurately report their status to the VEC.
- The United States Department of Labor defines “able” as an individual who is physically and mentally able to perform work; and “available” as ready and willing to accept suitable work. Virginians who do not meet both of these requirements are not eligible for benefits and must report their correct status to the VEC each week.
- As part of weekly filing and claiming of benefits, customers must meet this requirement and accurately report their status to the VEC each week. Customers who are not able and available for work are not eligible for benefits.
Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Unemployment Insurance fraud is a national problem, and Virginia is not immune. VEC continues to work with law enforcement to investigate fraud and take steps to prevent and mitigate the impact. As part of that ongoing effort, the VEC is reminding Virginians receiving unemployment benefits to protect their personal information and monitor their account.
- Individuals receiving unemployment benefits should never share their PIN or password. Additionally, customers should never share other identifying information (name, email address, mailing address, phone number, work history, benefits status, etc…) related to their claims filing status or unemployment insurance benefits on social media. Criminals are targeting customers on social media and harvesting data from these platforms for personal information that can be used for claims fraud.
- VEC has also received reports of banking information being changed without a customer’s permission. The investigation is ongoing, but customers can verify their banking information by calling 1-800-897-5630. Virginians, who believe they may be the victim of fraud or identity theft related to unemployment insurance, should report it to the VEC by visiting https://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed/fraud or calling 1-800-782-4001.
About the Virginia Employment Commission
The Virginia Employment Commission, a state agency under the Department of Commerce and Trade, is dedicated to promoting economic growth and stability by delivering and coordinating workforce services to include: policy development; job placement services; temporary income support; workforce information; and transition and training services. To accomplish this mission, the agency partners with stakeholders; develops and empowers staff; improves its processes; embraces innovative solutions and technologies; and continually renews the organization. Additional information on Virginia’s Unemployment Insurance Programs can be found on VEC’s webpage at: https://www.vec.virginia.gov/unemployed