Virginia making payments in backlogged unemployment cases

A Help Wanted sign is posted at a Designer Eyes store at Brickell City Centre, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Miami. The number of people applying for unemployment aid jumped last week to 853,000, the most since September, evidence that some companies are cutting more jobs as new virus cases spiral higher. The Labor Department said Thursday, Dec. 10, that the number of applications increased from 716,000 the previous week. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

RICHMOND, Va. – After being threatened with a lawsuit, Virginia has begun paying unemployment benefits to tens of thousands of people whose claims had previously been on hold because they were awaiting a staff review.

State officials decided to go ahead and pay the applicants while their claims make their way through the determination process. A spokeswoman for the Virginia Employment Commission says payments started going out Tuesday night.

The move will certainly be a relief for many Virginians. But if the determination process finds the recipients were not due the money, they will have to pay it back, possibly along with interest and fees.