Since gaming facilities in the Mountain State shut down, West Virginia casino workers might be feeling nervous and uneasy. The state has some programs to assist in these times.
Former employees of places like Hollywood Casino or Mardi Gras may qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Both federal and state governments altered normal requirements during this time.
Info on unemployment benefits for West Virginia casino workers
New federal guidelines give WV additional flexibility in its unemployment programs. That might allow you to qualify even if you wouldn’t under normal circumstances.
For example, you might still qualify even if a casino in WV only hired you recently. Additionally, you may qualify for partial benefits if you just had your hours or salary reduced.
Although WV must abide by some federal rules, the state administers its own unemployment program. You must file a claim with the WV Department of Commerce, not the federal government, in order to receive benefits.
WV Gov. Jim Justice penned an executive order to ensure workers in his state who have lost their jobs temporarily due to COVID-19 business closures are eligible for unemployment. That includes people who worked at WV casinos.
If you’ve worked for such a company in WV over the past year to 18 months, the casino paid into the state system on your behalf. The state reserves that money for you in case of circumstances such as these.
Taking advantage of that requires you to meet some criteria, however. For the most part, employees of WV casinos should meet them.
How do I know whether or not I qualify for benefits?
A few things might disqualify you from qualifying for full benefits even if you’ve worked for a WV casino recently. Those include but may not be limited to the following:
- If you’ve just performed contract work for a casino, you may not qualify
- Out-of-state workers are not eligible. You must be a legal resident of WV
- If you’ve received severance pay or are still working most of your hours/receiving most of your regular salary
- The amount of banked paid time off you have left may affect your eligibility as well
- If you earned less than $2,200 in at least two of the first four of the last five quarters in which you have worked for a WV casino
- You were hired by the casino not long before it shut down and you haven’t worked for any other companies in WV over the past 18 months
Generally speaking, if you filled out a W9 when the casino hired you and that happened at least 18 months ago, you should be eligible. The state may consider your application even if that isn’t the case, however.
If you’re at all unsure about your eligibility, the best thing to do is file a claim anyway as soon as possible. In doing so, you allow the Department to consider your individual case.
The quickest and easiest way to file a claim is by using the Department’s online system. You will need some personal information in order to complete that process.
What do I need to file a claim online in West Virginia?
On a computer or smartphone with Internet access, guide your browser to the system’s registration page. From there you can register and file your claim.
If you need assistance, you can call 1-800-252-JOBS (5627). The system also allows you to save your progress and resume your claim later if you need to gather additional information
The information you will need includes but may not be limited to:
- Your social security number or your Alien Registration card if you are not a US citizen
- The address at which you receive your mail and a telephone number the Department can reach you at
- Your WV ID such as a drivers license
- The addresses, names and telephone numbers of all WV companies you have worked for over the past 18 months
- The date(s) each employer hired you and the last day you worked for each company
- Why you no longer work for each company
- The gross (pre-tax) amount of compensation you earned over the past 18 months for working for WV companies
- Your bank account and routing numbers if you elect direct deposit
- The gross amount of any paid time off you’re using or severance pay you received
- If you’re still working but receiving less than your normal salary or have had your hours cut, you must share that information with the state
Hopefully, WV casinos will resume normal activity soon. In the meantime, there are ways for you to fill in the gaps provided by the state.