RICHMOND, Va. (AP)- 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.