Wyoming Department of Workforce Services works with Department of Labor to implement COVID relief programs

CHEYENNE - A COVID-19 relief package that includes an extension of federal unemployment benefits was signed into law on Sunday. The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is working diligently to provide these provisions, though DWS must receive guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor before implementing the changes. Once the guidance is received, those changes will require DWS to reprogram the Unemployment Insurance system before payments can be issued.

"Many Wyoming workers are still struggling with unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic," said Holly McKamey Simoni, Workforce Programs Administrator for DWS. "The legislation passed just before Christmas and signed by President Trump on Sunday will once more assist those who would not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance."

The COVID-19 relief package extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs. Both of these programs expired on Dec. 26, but the relief package extends them to March 13. The legislation also renews the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which provides an additional $300 per week payment to those receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits. No claims can be backdated to a date before these programs' effective start date of Dec. 27, 2020.

"It's important to know that it will take time to make the changes to the system to begin paying these benefits," Simoni said. "We must first receive guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, and then we will need to reprogram our computer system for these programs."

Once the guidance from the Department of Labor is received, it may take several weeks to reprogram the system. DWS will provide updates as they become available at WyomingWorkforce.org.

Claimants who are filing PUA or PEUC claims need to wait to file until a notice is posted on WyomingWorkforce.org
stating that the updated system is in place. Please do not file PUA or PEUC claims at this time. Regular UI claims can be filed now and should not be delayed.

Important note: Unemployment benefits, including COVID-19 relief programs, may be denied to workers who are determined by the agency to have been terminated by their employer for cause, quit their jobs without good cause, refuse to return to work, or refuse an offer of new employment. Filing a claim containing a false statement may be determined to be fraudulent and may be subject to prosecution. Investigation of job separation and work refusal are part of the eligibility determination process.

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