DOL Unemployment Insurance Guidelines Delay Benefit Payouts

The U.S. Department of Labor delays providing sufficient guidance to States on how to process federal subsidies for unemployment insurance [U.I.] benefits, and this, in turn, is causing a pipeline problem at the state level.  The California Development Department [EDD] is working overtime to process a flood U.I. of applications. Over 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in just the last two weeks of March 2020.  In the first week of April, the federal DOL sent the states a 46 page set of guidelines that state EDD says creates more questions and lacks necessary detail.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Overview

The Federal U.I. subsidy offers $600 per week extra, and 13 extra weeks of payout added to the previous 26 weeks.  The $600 payouts have not gone out as of this writing but EDD says it shouldn’t be much longer.  The extra federal money will increase the prior maximum payout from $1,800 per month to $4,200 per month.  The federal law also defines the eligibility not from the date of application for benefits, but the date first unemployed.  Furloughed workers qualify under the new emergency law, that is, you can still technically be an “employee” and qualify for U.I. benefits.  I’ve written on the general federal benefit legislation, including U.I. benefits, elsewhere in this blog. COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Paid Sick Leave

More Delay:  New EDD Software Programs Needed to Process Gig Worker Applications

A major glitch for the EDD is reprogramming its computerized eligibility processing programs to account for new categories of persons eligible by federal law for U.I. benefits:  gig workers and independent contractors.  The solution is not obvious as waiting months for software development is not acceptable.

Putting Too Much Burden into the Burden of Proof of Who Qualifies for Unemployment Benefits?

The DOL has a tightrope.  It must write guidelines of who qualifies for disbursing federal money, but also not write those guidelines too strictly by placing too many complications in the way of helping persons needing help now.  The idea of federal legislation was to stabilize the employment status of persons needing help in the short term until able to return to their usual work environments.  Whether the DOL will rise to that occasion is in question.

The information for this article was taken from the L.A. Times, “Jobless In Limbo over Benefits” 04-08-2020