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States Having The Hardest Time Implementing UI Benefits

Updated : April 20th, 2020

hardest time with UI benefits

We have previously taken a look at the states with the largest number of UI claims with regard to their progress in with the new unemployment insurance systems. Since then, there have been reports of a lot more people starting to receive their weekly entitlements in those states. But some states have not yet started implementing the new UI benefits rules.

In this post, we will take a look at the states that seem to be having the worst time coping with CARES Act implementation and take a look at the most common complaints people have about them.  

Common Problems Faced By All States

The US never before faced such a large volume of unemployment claims with over 15 million people filing. Many states had in fact cut back their unemployment compensation systems due to the good economic growth and historic lows in unemployment rates. They are thus swamped and experiencing the following:

  • Servers overloaded with requests
  • Jammed phone lines
  • Staff shortage

The Coronavirus Economic Security Act took care of the state unemployment trust fund insolvency by giving agreeable states, funds for the Pandemic Unemployment programs. Now let’s look at the states whose citizens are having the roughest time.

Florida

This state has been facing flak for its slow response in handling the large number of UI claims. Official data shows more than 470,000 filings so far, but the number is an underestimate as numerous people haven’t even been able to open an account or reach out to a worker over the phone. Florida has contracted out technological upgrades and hired call centers but thousands of people report being unable to access the website.

Many who were able to file claims are frustrated at being unable to see their determination status or have no idea when they will receive benefit payments. Florida’s economy is in worse shape than other states due to its reliance on tourism which is unlikely to resume even after lockdown ends. The state had also reduced benefits and payment weeks over the years.

Ohio

Ohio’s Lt Governor Jon Husted said that the state needs to hurry up with topping up the state unemployment trust funds because it will be unable to handle the volume of claims at this moment. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has declared that people may start getting UI benefits tentatively from next week. It may be early May by the time the self-employed and part-time workers and others previously ineligible for unemployment compensation, may be able to have claims successfully processed.

The state website has been outdated for years and is thus unable to handle the influx of people. The state is attempting to upgrade it, but more effort is needed.

Though Ohio has been hiring staff and getting deputed employees they have insufficient training resources. This will put many people with barely any savings in great inconvenience.

Washington

This is another state lagging behind on unemployment claims processing. Many people newly eligible for UI benefits such as the self-employed, those furloughed or not receiving pay due to COVID-19 etc. Even people who successfully filed benefits in mid-March have reported not receiving payments etc.

Washington like other states is scrambling to hire people to man the call centers. They need to upgrade the system which is reportedly unable to handle the new calculations due to the changs from the CARES Act. The date for expanding UI officially through the CARES Act has been set at Apr 18th.

The state has at least passed a ban on eviction, bringing welcome relief to people out of jobs. 

Other States Having Almost Identical Problems

  • Virginia– Not executed the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program yet. It has missed two promised deadlines of Apr 7th to announce details and Apr 10th to start enrolling eligible workers to PUA
  • Oregon– System underwent a glitch that may not have been fully fixed as people are asked by it to restart their claims process. The state has not legally waived waiting week requirement yet.
  • Missouri– The state has not indicated a timeline yet for when PUA payments could start going out, as it remains swamped by UI applications. 
  • Maine– $600 payments are yet to be started. The governor has passed orders to restrict evictions.

 

Some states are in talks over the limited reopening of a few economic sectors and companies. This might reduce the unemployment situation marginally, but is going to be of limited use. Many people are employed in accommodation and food services as well as manufacturing, which provides the purchasing power to fuel the spending in the country. The states will need to speed up on implementing UI benefits.

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