Nevada unemployment still pending

Nevada unemployment still pending DEFAULT

Las Vegas resident Eric Riccardi hit a milestone last week. He has survived a year without receiving his unemployment benefits, but it cost him his savings and the recent sale of his rental property, which was to be his retirement income.

He hasn’t received his benefits because his account is under investigation by Nevada’s employment office after a fraudster filed a claim in March 2020 using his identity.

“It’s been a year since I’ve been trying to straighten this out,” he said. “Anytime that I’ve actually got through to them it’s been, ‘Don’t call us. We’ll call you.’ Then you sit there with the phone on and it’s the phone call that never comes.”

Federal unemployment benefits for Nevadans are winding down this Labor Day weekend. But more than a year after the benefits were implemented, claimants are reporting many of the same problems that plagued the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation at the beginning of the pandemic such as busy phone lines, payment delays and hacked accounts.

“I try to keep it together,” said Riccardi, a former salesman for a commercial HVAC manufacturer. “I try to keep a sense of humor about everything. I’ve been binge watching Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

DETR Director Elisa Cafferata said the department is working quickly to resolve claimants’ issues as well as backlogs and appeals.

“One of the things we want people to know is they will get paid benefits for all of the weeks that they are eligible for, and we are working through cases in the order that they came in,” said Cafferata. “We know it is frustrating.”

Changes ahead

The unemployment office was overwhelmed with Nevadans trying to file for benefits when Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated the shutdown of casinos and nonessential businesses on March 15, 2020.

By the end of the week, DETR reported the most unemployment insurance claims in state history. It reported 92,298 regular initial claims for the week ending March 21, 2020. The previous high was 8,945 for the week ending Jan. 10, 2009.

Stephen Wandner, economist and senior fellow at National Academy of Social Insurance, said the number of unemployed workers took off so steeply it’s no surprise states were struggling.

“In most states, the systems are very old and they’re very hard to reprogram (and) things exploded so fast that it’s a game of catch-up that will take a while,” he said.

Cafferata said DETR is taking steps to overhaul its unemployment system after the state earmarked up to $54 million of American Rescue Funds in June to be used for modernizing the department.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were dealing with 3 percent unemployment,” she said. “The lesson learned is we have to be able to scale very quickly because economic dislocations could be much worse and more suddenly than we previously anticipated.”

She said DETR has contracted with Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Employment Security Education and Research to create a request for proposal, adding that it’ll likely take up to six months to complete. Once the proposal is done, the department will sign on a vendor to help implement the changes.

Missing funds

The much-needed improvements are encouraging, yet filers including Las Vegas resident Mark Loomis say it’s coming too late.

“I cannot contact them (DETR),” said Loomis. “It’s just mind-boggling. You can’t get ahold of them whatsoever. Their phones are worse than they’ve ever been through this whole pandemic.”

He received a “pending resolution” notice on his account in May, but he has been unable to clear the problem to resume his weekly benefits.

The delay has left him unable to cover his rent, especially since his only monthly income is $1,000 from Social Security. He’s now preparing to be homeless after his landlord’s eviction notice was granted by the Las Vegas Justice Court last month, despite a pending CHAP application for rental arrears of $4,200.

“My cats to animal control and me to a shelter,” said Loomis. “Somewhere down the road, years from now, I’ll get backpay. That’s the best I probably could look forward to.”

Alan Mendelson, whose benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will expire Saturday, had his own close call last month. He nearly missed his weekly benefit payment when his account was hacked twice within three days, noting his banking information was changed to Wells Fargo with a routing number in Minneapolis.

“I can’t believe the guy (fraudster) did it with only three weeks left of PUA,” said Mendelson, who was able to regain access to his account shortly after the hacks.

“(DETR) was doing the right thing … and it wasn’t an email with somebody saying we’ll get back to you in six months,” he said.

But Mendelson said he’s baffled the fraudster made it through the department’s two-step verification system, implemented this year to prevent fraud.

‘Collateral damage’

Riccardi filed for unemployment insurance in August 2020, after he was laid off, but was unable to create an account.

After a month of calling, he was able to reach DETR and was told to file a fraud complaint because a person with an Illinois address collected benefits under his name from March 2020 to July 2020. But it took another six months, or until March 2021, and about 3,000 phone calls to reach DETR for an update on his fraud complaint, Riccardi said.

At the time, the representative restored Riccardi’s account and mailed his unemployment insurance card with the back payments added, totaling more than $20,000.

“He said after Saturday midnight, go back into your account and continue your weekly claim. I went into my account that Sunday and I saw that they never changed my address. It still had Atomic City, Illinois,” said Riccardi.

It took another five months before he could reconnect with DETR, adding that he finally spoke with DETR’s fraud department last week and was told DETR would follow up Monday. He said he’s still waiting for the phone call.

“Everyone (at DETR) says you were a victim of fraud,” said Riccardi. “No, I’m not. The state was a victim of fraud. I was just collateral damage.”

Riccardi said he was forced to sell his northwest Las Vegas rental property in June, after emptying his savings.

“That house was my investment for my retirement. I didn’t want to sell it,” he said. “But the housing market in Las Vegas really took off and I thought maybe it’s not a bad idea because I have no income.”

He’s hoping the proceeds will give him enough time to find a new job, though he’s skeptical he’ll find work. Riccardi suffered a stroke last year shortly after landing in the intensive care unit at University Medical Center with COVID-19.

“It left me with a limp and a stutter but that doesn’t keep me from looking for work,” he said. “I’ll look for work, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s been a year and I’ve never been able to collect my benefits.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at [email protected] Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

Sours: https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-nevada/waiting-more-than-a-year-for-unemployment-benefits-his-savings-are-gone-hes-not-alone-2432831/

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (NV DETR) administers the unemployment compensation program for the state. The DETR is responsible for processing unemployment compensation claims and paying out benefits, including the federally funded enhanced unemployment benefits.

As many claimants realized, NV DETR had struggled to pay benefits in a timely manner given their antiquated systems and processing for a record number of claimants.

Further, widespread reports of fraudulent claims meant longer processing periods and mass rejections of valid claims. However following DETR system and process upgrades many of these issues have now been addressed as you can see in the comments forum following this article. You can also more on recent topics of interest around pandemic unemployment benefits in the sections below.

End of Federal Enhanced Benefits (PUA, PEUC, $300 FPUC and $100 MEUC)

The Nevada DETR has confirmed that claimants on the PEUC, PUA, MEUC and FPUC programs will file/certify for benefits for the last time covering the week ending September 4, 2021. Any active claims with or without remaining balances will expire after this date.

While there has been a lot of discussion around extending pandemic unemployment benefits, the Biden administration has confirmed (see video) that states will have to use already allocated stimulus funding to expand or extend traditional state unemployment programs. The NV DETR has not indicated that is planning to do so at this stage, but I will post updates if things change.

Claimants who were eligible for State Extended Benefits (SEB) will get an extra week of benefits, as the SEB program expires the week ending September 11. After September 4th and 11th, claimants must have a regular UI claim to continue receiving benefits.

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ID.Me Identity Validation Issues

Thousands of unemployed claimants are reporting issues with the new identity verification system/vendor the DETR is using to tackle issues with fraudulent claims. Earlier this year claimants were asked to use little known third party vendor ID.me, whose system uses proprietary A.I. facial recognition software, to verity their identity in order to receive unemployment benefits.

However many claimants in Nevada are reporting this system has not worked for them and have already faced several weeks (or months in some cases) of delays in getting the unemployment payments they are eligible for. The issues ranged from a failure of the ID.me facial recognition technology to having to wait for hours to reach a human for a video chat to troubleshoot issues – a service provided via the vendor, and not the DETR.  

You can see examples in the comments forum below this article and across social media issues are being reported with this technology which is also used in several other states to verify identities for unemployment payments. The DETR and ID.me have said most issues have been worked through and only a handful of complex cases remain to be resolved.

Is the $300 weekly benefit, PUA and PEUC ending early in Nevada?

No. Despite several other states ending benefits earlier than planned, Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced that he is NOT considering ending federal unemployment programs ahead of the current September 6th expiry. Unlike most states, pay rates in Nevada are higher than average and unemployment benefits lower than average. This has meant business for the most part have been able to fill open vacancies as activity picks up in a post-pandemic environment.


Biden Stimulus Bill – Unemployment Benefit Extensions to September 2021

Under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), enhanced unemployment benefits have been extended until September 6th. This includes further extensions to the PUA program, PEUC program, $300 weekly payment under the FPUC program and $100 Mixed Earners (MEUC) program. There were also provisions in the Biden Stimulus package for Unemployment tax breaks on the first $10,200 of benefits received in 2020.

Nevada DETR Latest News and Status on PUA, PEUC and $300 FPUC Payment Schedule

The Federal Department of Labor (DOL) has now issued formal guidelines to implement the latest round of unemployment extensions until September 6th. The Nevada DETR has implemented the system changes to enable it to apply up to an additional 25 weeks for all eligible claimants, through week ending September 4, 2021.  This was much faster than prior extensions and federal unemployment programs (per updates below).

There were some issues with applying extended weeks to the PUA program claimants but that has now been resolved. Claimants should be aware of the following general guidelines around the extended coverage period funded under the Biden ARP stimulus bill.

  • You do not need to reapply for benefits. DETR will automatically enroll you in the appropriate extension and notify if additional information is needed.
  • You should continue to file your weekly claim for benefits as you normally would as long as you remain unemployed.
  • You will not need to contact DETR in order for these program extensions to take effect.
  • This legislation would extend the various benefit programs through the week ending September 4, 2021. This is approximately 25 weeks of extra coverage (the ARP bill had legislated 29 weeks in total).
  • The additional weekly payment of $300 under the FPUC program will be extended through September 4, 2021 as well.
  • Several PUA claimants reported issues with verifying their identity through ID.me, but the agency is working with impacted or technically challenged folks to address identity verification issues.

March 17th, 2021 Update on rollout of ARPA extensions

Nevada’s DETR is still updating systems to apply the additional coverage weeks under this extension. They are also still having challenges paying out extended weeks under the CAA given their antiquated systems, and have said PUA and PEUC recipients should be prepared to experience several weeks of delays to get the extra weeks of coverage under ARP.

PEUC Claimants ongoing delays expected – The Nevada DETR UI system cannot process all of the existing claims at one time. Because the system must evaluate and update the payment amount for each week for each claimant, they process payments in batches. In general, they are processing from oldest to newest claims. Some complex claims require manual processing to ensure that claimants receive all of the weeks they are eligible for. As a result PEUC recipients will experience a delay of several weeks before benefits become available. Claimants will retroactively receive all weeks they are eligible for.

I will post updates as more information is provided. So get the latest updates via the options below.


2021 Unemployment Program Extensions Under COVID Relief Bill – PUA and PEUC 11-week Extension Updates

The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package was passed into law on Dec. 27, 2020, which among several other pandemic relief measures extends and provides additional funding for enhanced unemployment benefits. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and a reinstatement, but halving of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program which provides a $300 supplemental weekly unemployment payment. These programs have been funded and extended for 11 weeks, covering the weeks of December 27th, 2020 to March 14th, 2021. Existing PUA and PEUC claims can be claimed until the week ending April 10th (phase out period).

[Update Feb 17th] The 11-week extension has been rolled out for the PUA and PEUC programs, but DETR continues to see technical issues with paying claims. For PUA they are not expecting to make payments until the end of May. The latest one (per the screenshot below) was one asking existing PUA claimants who were filing for the 11-week extension to file a new claim and be subject to a waiting period. This was incorrect and has caused payment delays which the DETR is looking to fix.

How long will it take before I can get PUA payments for the 11-week extension?

DETR is seeing thousands of applications being submitted and each claim requires a review for each week of PUA eligibility and will take some time. The Division recommends checking the website and your PUA account for any current/updated changes. They are also recommending choosing direct deposit for payment, which will process more quickly. Debit cards will take 7-14 days to arrive. Payments for PUA weekly claims are scheduled to begin by the end of May.

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Will I Get the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) 11-weeks automatically?

While the PEUC updates for the new legislation have been applied there are some new rules to be aware of. Those who are currently receiving PEUC benefits under the CARES act, will continue to be on PEUC and their eligible weeks will be automatically extended.

Any claimant who had a balance on their PEUC extension as of 12/26/20 but had already filed a State Extended Benefits (SEB) claim early, will be automatically placed back on PEUC in order to capture the additional weeks. This may results in a weeks gap in benefit payments. Any claimant who had exhausted PEUC prior to 12/26/20 and went on SEB will stay on SEB. At the end of SEB, the claimant will be placed back on PEUC up to the expiration of the program.

[Update Jan 12th] – While Nevada has started paying the $300 FPUC payment to active claimants, it has not paid week 6 of the $300 LWA program (per updates below in LWA section). These are two separate programs and funded differently – the FPUC is federally funded under the COVID relief bill, the LWA program was funded via FEMA. Note that Nevada DETR also has to roll-out updates to PUA programs to cover the extended periods and allow those claimants to also get the extra weekly $300 FPUC.

Due to additional requirements for new PUA filers, DETR must update the PUA application programming before new PUA claims can be filed. Depending on the complexity of DOL guidance on changes, it is anticipated that these changes should be implemented within four weeks [so likely won’t be ready till end of January 2020]

Nevada DETR

According to the Nevada DETR claimants with existing or expired claim balances should be aware of the following:

  • PUA and PEUC, FPUC will be automatically added to the claimants’ benefits if they are eligible for the weeks outlined in the legislation.
  • Claimants with weeks remaining in UI should continue to file weekly claims.
  • Claimants who will have additional weeks in UI and PUA or PEUC due to the Continued Assistance Act should watch the DETR website for updates that will allow additional weeks to be filed.
  • Claimants will be caught up on payments for all weeks they are eligible.

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Fifth Week of the Lost Wages Assistance Program Now Being Paid. Week 6 STILL NOT PAID

[Update Jan 12th, 2020] Week 5 has been paid, but week 6 is still pending as DETR is currently waiting to hear back from FEMA for funding to make this payment. While FEMA or DETR has not made an official comment I doubt this payment will be made as the overall program expired at the end of 2020. And with the new $300 FPUC payment (discussed above) already being sent, Week 6 may not ever happen.

[Updated December 16th] – While Weeks 4 and 5 have now been paid for most eligible claimants, there are still many reports of missing and delayed payments (see quote below). It does seem that PUA recipients are being paid first, likely due to the fact they had already certified their job loss was COVID related (an LWA requirement). Other UI program recipients, per comments below, are still awaiting Week 4 and Week 5 payments in particular.

Week 6 payments were scheduled to start this week, but it now appears that the DETR is awaiting more funding from FEMA to pay for week 6. Per their official statement, “As to the potential of the last week of assistance (week 6), unless FEMA approves additional funding to pay for a week 6, there will not be a payment for a week 6. DETR is currently waiting to hear back from FEMA.” Again this does NOT mean that Week 6 is definitely not being paid, it just means that it is subject to FEMA funding which was budgeted for 6 weeks per state. But given the delays in Nevada’s DETR LWA roll-out the program expiry date of December 31st may be the bigger risk of this payment being missed vs. FEMA funding approval.

You can see this video for a summary of the issues and potential solutions if you are having trouble with getting information on your LWA payment.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) in Nevada – Payments now processing and being paid

The Nevada DETR said that it made a small test run of $300 LWA payments during the week of October 12th to claimants in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Actual LWA payments to all eligible claimants will take place over the next several weeks and payments will be processed in several batches given the significant number of claimants and system constraints.

[Updated November 30th] LWA Payments for weeks 1 through 4 have been issued. DETR has started making payments for week 5 of LWA to eligible claimants. As in round one, the process is expected to last up to 10 days. After week 5 is completed, DETR will make sure there is enough money left in the grant to pay the final week (week 6) of LWA.

[Updated November 11th] The Nevada DETR has said it has started processing ($300) payments for week 4 of LWA to eligible claimants this week. As in round one, the process is expected to last up to 10 days, DETR said. After Week 4 is paid, DETR will pay subsequent weeks for which they have funding.

Many claimants are not eligible for LWA payments because they are not receiving at least $100 in existing UI benefits (via regular state unemployment, PUA or PEUC) to be eligible for the program.

First 3 weeks of LWA payments now paid

DETR spokesperson, Rosa Mendez, said the first 3 weeks of LWA payments of $900 for those on PUA were paid in batches through 10/23 (confirmed based on article comments). From 10/23 to the end of October, those not on PUA will start getting their first ($900) batch of payments. The remaining LWA payments will also begin processing towards the end of October for ALL unemployment recipients, until Nevada runs out of LWA funding (max 6 weeks).

How to tell if you have been approved and how to tell how much you’re getting

(Thanks to Brent for this comment) Login to your Claimant homepage. Go to the dates of 8/1, 8/8, and 8/15, and if you look at the deductions it should be “Y” for yes click on the “Y” and it will say “Lost wage Assistance” then -300 dollars for those 3 dates. This is good don’t freak out it means your approved. Sorry if this is confusing its hard to explain because it shows up in a weird spot.

Amounts to qualified applicants will be paid retroactively to August 1 for 6 weeks (up to $1800 in total if you qualified for all 6 weeks). Several readers have acknowledged the lack of information and delayed payment relative to other states as you can see in the comments below. I will continue to post updates if new information comes to hand. See further details in the section below including a link to the NV DETR LWA page.

2020 COVID 19 Enhanced Benefits under CARES Act

Under the CARES act, there are three types of federal unemployment assistance available:

• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): expands eligibility for traditionally ineligible individuals for unemployment benefits, including independent contractors and self-employed individuals.  Recipients may receive up to 39 weeks of benefit payments under this program.

• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC): adds $600 per week and the regular benefits that recipients of Unemployment Insurance are entitled to receive; the benefit is retroactive to the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the program expired on July 31, 2020.

• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC): provides an additional 13 weeks of Unemployment benefits to regular unemployment insurance recipients.

If you have exhausted benefits paid through the regular unemployment and PEUC program, you may be entitled to receive up to 50% of the total amount received on your regular unemployment benefits through the Extended Benefit (EB) program. This program covers an additional 6 to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, depending upon the number of weeks you were eligible for benefits on your original unemployment insurance claim.

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Payment Details and Schedule

In addition to the above enhanced benefits, you may be eligible for Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) if you are out of work due to COVID-19. If your weekly benefit payment is at least $100, and you were eligible for unemployment benefits, you may receive an additional $300 in assistance retroactive through weeks ending August 1, 2020 to September 5th, 2020. You do not need to file a separate request/application for LWA; however, you may need to self-certify to confirm that you are unemployed or partially unemployed because of COVID-19.

Applicants only need to self-certify that they are unemployed/partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. If they don’t self-certify they may not be eligible to receive any of the $300 due to FEMA funding limitations.

Claimants do not need to apply separately for the benefit, or reactivate a claim if they were eligible during the qualifying weeks but have since returned to work. Those still in the backlog will be eligible for Lost Wages benefits if their claim is approved, DETR officials said. See more on the NV DETR LWA page.

Web and/or phone issues with accessing the unemployment systems

The DETR has experienced a high volume of unemployment benefits claims filed since the pandemic began. Given its lack of staff, the agency has had significant delays in processing claims and answering incoming calls. Also, federal assistance received required changes to their online processing systems, which delayed the processing of claims and benefits.

Initial Claims: If this is the first time that you are filing an unemployment claim under any of the federal or state programs available, you must first file an initial unemployment insurance claim to determine your eligibility and which programs may apply to you.

If you are eligible for regular unemployment benefits, you will receive a Monetary Determination Letter and PIN, typically within 7 to 10 business days of filing your initial claim. Your Monetary Determination letter lets you know what financial benefits you may possibly be eligible for; however, this may change based on the weekly claims you submit (addressed under Existing Claimants below).

Existing Claimants:  Claimants receiving unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic must continue to certify every week to receive unemployment benefits under any state or federal program. This includes the additional FPUC $600/week benefit and the PUA program.

The extra $600/week compensation is retroactive to the week beginning on March 29 and ends on July 31. FPUC payments are automatically added to the weekly benefit payment.

Upon exhausting regular unemployment benefits, you must file a separate application to receive PEUC benefits.

Claimants that have exhausted both regular unemployment and PEUC benefits may be eligible for an additional 6 to 13 weeks of unemployment benefits under the Extended Benefits program. A separate application is required.

Filing an Initial and Weekly Claim + FAQs

You must file your initial unemployment claim through the DETR here. You will need the following information to file your first claim. 

  • Social Security Number
  • Personal mailing address and contact information
  • Employment history for the past 18 months, including:
    • Employers’ business names
    • The physical address for each employer
    • First and the last date that you worked for each employer
    • The reason you are no longer employed
  • Alien Registration number and the date your work authorization expires if you are not a US citizen
  • The name and local number of the union hall (if you obtain work through a union)

To file a new claim over the phone, the Customer Call Center is available at (866) 832-2363. Phone assistance is available from Monday-Friday 8:15 AM – 4:30 PM; Saturday 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM.  You may also file an existing claim over the phone by calling (800) 897-5630.

To be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits in Virginia, you must meet the following eligibility requirements during the pandemic:

  • Unemployed or had a reduction in hours due to no fault of your own
  • Earned enough wages to be eligible for unemployment benefits

Filing Weekly Claims

You must file a weekly claim to prove that you are still eligible and qualify for unemployment benefits.  Your weekly claim cannot be filed until the end of the workweek, which is Saturday at midnight. You have up to 28 days after the end of each week that you are unemployed to file this weekly claim. Weekly claims can be filed online or over the phone.

If you don’t file your weekly claim within the required time, you will not be paid unemployment benefits for the week. 

Existing claimants who are eligible for PUA log in here to file their weekly claims.

If there is a problem with your claim that must be resolved before benefits can be paid or you have appealed a denial in benefits, you must still file a weekly claim online or over the phone. If it is determined that you are eligible or if you win your appeal, you will be paid these benefits retroactively. However, if you win the appeal but have not claimed benefits, you will not be paid for these weeks.

I filed my unemployment claim several weeks ago. Will I receive back pay once my claim is approved?

Over the past few months, the DETR has improved its telephone response and claim processing time. However, the large volume of unemployment claims will result in continued delays. If you are eligible to receive benefits but have not heard anything back yet, you will receive retroactive benefit payments up to the date that you were determined eligible as long as you filed your claims each week.

This also applies to the FPUC $600 per week additional benefit, which expired on July 31. If you have filed an unemployment claim before that date and are still awaiting a response regarding your eligibility for unemployment, you will receive retroactive payments for the back weeks of FPUC. This is the case even if the decision is not made until after the July 31 expiration date. 

If you are not eligible for regular unemployment, you may collect benefits under the PUA program.  To determine eligibility, you must file a new unemployment insurance claim if you have not already done so. Once your eligibility is determined, you may complete a separate PUA application. You should continue to file weekly certifications during this process. If you are eligible for PUA benefits for weeks that have already passed, you may recover back pay if you submitted weekly certifications.

Can I still collect unemployment benefits if my hours have been reduced?

Individuals who work reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic may still be eligible to collect partial unemployment benefits if your gross earnings are less than the weekly benefit amount. You must continue to file your weekly certification and report any of your wages in the week they were earned, not received. Wages earned may reduce your unemployment benefit.

Related

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Sours: https://savingtoinvest.com/nevada-nv-detr-unemployment-benefits-news-and-updates-on-300-lwa-pua-peuc-and-600-fpuc/
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Fixes for 7 Issues Causing Nevada Unemployment Frustration

I was sorry to hear that Heather Korbulic had to leave UI/DETR due to threats; no one deserves that. On the other hand, I can certainly understand desperate people still waiting for a resolution (i.e., payment!) months after filing, perhaps at the point of losing everything they had worked hard for, being frustrated to the point of bad behavior by a broken system. In general, people understood how overwhelming the situation was, that the system just wasn’t built for the sudden exponential volume, and many were pretty patient as a result. But, beyond the backlog, there are some pretty basic things that have exacerbated claimants’ sense of having salt rubbed into a wound, of having insult added to injury.

Given the void of personal communication, claimants are left with the information presented by the media, on the UI Web site, and in the recorded message (if they are lucky enough to actually connect when they call). Currently, the messages are scrambled, the content is not logically organized, and the wording seems designed to confuse and mislead. Both the Web site and recorded phone message include an overwhelming amount of information that leaves those on the receiving end even more unsure of next steps. Even someone (like myself) who has been successfully using the Internet for searches and research since it became publicly available can spend hours trying to find specific answers and still walk away empty-handed (not to mention extremely frustrated!). Making some fairly quick revisions to the communications, to make the instructions as clear and simple as possible, could potentially streamline the process to minimize the number of claims that fall into the “Pending Resolution” bucket and, as a result, claimant complaints.

PROBLEM #1:Incoming calls are poorly handled (e.g., false information provided in the recorded on-hold message, abrupt disconnection). Some of this can no doubt be explained by the fact that service-level commitments on measurable KPIs/critical success factors were not built into the outsourcing contract with the call center. (Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/6/20)

Example: I called 18 times over the course of one morning. The line was busy 16 times; the call connected two times. Both times that I was able to connect, a recorded message played. Early in the message, it suggests using the callback option in which a representative will return your call in the order in which it was received. The message then continues on, lasting a full four minutes, covering a wide variety of topics. At the end of that time, it simply indicates “All representatives are currently busy” and hangs up.

It is just a different kind of hell to experience the false hope that results from a ringing line and the promise of a callback option (after hours of busy signals) only to be abruptly disconnected after four minutes of messages. That is enough to send anyone over the edge!

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS (“QUICK-FIX” & LONGER-TERM):

  • Update the recorded message to reflect the actual experience claimants can expect (e.g., do not mention a callback option if that option does not exist).
  • If no callback option is available, announce at the start of the message that all representatives are busy and indicate: “Try calling again at another time or stay on the line to hear additional information that may answer your question.” This way, claimants won’t waste four minutes listening to the same recording every time they connect.
  • If a representative will be available to take the call, instead indicate: “Please stay on the line to speak to a representative.”
  • Actually implement a callback option.
  • Do not allow the call to connect if it is only going to hang up on the caller.
  • Prior to signing any future contract, ensure it includes detailed expectations/commitments and a schedule for regular performance-to-contract reviews. Also, consider factors other than lowest cost in the decision-making process.

PROBLEM #2: The information provided on the unemployment process itself is disorganized, cumbersome, and inaccurate/incomplete, leaving claimants uncertain where/when to begin and how to proceed. This often results in delays or even non-payment for weeks that should have been eligible.

Example: I tried multiple times to determine if I should file right away or wait until the time period covered by the vacation/PTO pay-out I received had expired, but I could find nothing that clearly explained this. I ended up waiting until four weeks after separation to file, since that is the amount of banked vacation/PTO pay I received. I hoped this would make the claim as seamless as possible, but it appears I lost a week of both federal and state unemployment pay (a significant amount!) as a result.

When I filed my weekly claim on June 28, the previous weeks had finally been processed, with a payment made for the weeks ending 6/13 and 6/20. The week ending 6/6 (the first week I had no pay) indicates “6/1/20 Non-pay due to initial hold payment.” I searched everywhere I could think of, including the handbook since the link was now fixed, trying to find an explanation for this and came up dry. I found information from another state that used similar wording to reflect that the first week after filing is not paid, but I could find nothing similar to explain how it works in Nevada.

When I filed my weekly claim on June 28, the previous weeks had finally been processed, with a payment made for the weeks ending 6/13 and 6/20. The week ending 6/6 (the first week I had no pay) indicates “6/1/20 Non-pay due to initial hold payment.” I searched everywhere I could think of, including the handbook since the link was now fixed, trying to find an explanation for this and came up dry. I found information from another state that used similar wording to reflect that the first week after filing is not paid, but I could find nothing similar to explain how it works in Nevada.

This causes more than a little frustration because, with clear communication, I could have filed at the appropriate time to receive what I was entitled to. It is particularly concerning to miss out on a week when the additional $600 federal unemployment payment is only in effect for a limited time and every dollar counts in these trying times.

In addition, status updates or new legislation, often described briefly by the media, are not even mentioned on the DETR/UI site, much less described in the level of detail that would be helpful to claimants. (This Fox5 report offers one example.)

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS (“QUICK-FIX” & LONGER-TERM):

  • Update the Web site and print materials to clearly communicate the process (e.g., when to file, waiting periods, etc.), step by step in plain language, so critical information is logically organized and easy to find.
  • Implement a branched recording that allows claimants to select why they are calling from specific common scenarios and then provide them relevant information, such as step-by-step instructions or what process to expect, in plain language. This might resolve some calls and allow actual representatives to deal with those looking to resolve pending cases or file new claims.
  • Ensure that DETR/UI site content is kept current, to reflect changes covered by the media and minimize the need for phone calls. Make it clear that the information is the latest and greatest. If process details are not yet hashed out, consider a prominent link to “Breaking News” that includes a brief statement indicating key information and when to expect more details. This helps build confidence and trust with claimants that the site contains accurate and up-to-date information.

PROBLEM #3:When claimants try to file, the wording of the questions leaves much room for interpretation and often seems outdated. It is often unclear how to “correctly” answer, causing confusion and “incorrect” answers that result in backlogs, increased workloads, and payment delays. It also seems, in some places, that wording/functionality was added to address a specific coronavirus-related scenario, without considering how it may or may not apply to other cases.

PROBLEM #4: Embedded requests for additional information are unclear, as are the methods for providing it.

Examples (Problems #3 & #4):

  • In the online Fact-Finding Interview triggered when a claimant has any additional amount paid upon separation, the following message displays: “Advisement: Please send your pay stubs to… <phone numbers>…” It seems “send” must refer to “fax,” but that is not specified and no alternative submission method (e.g., e-mail, USPS) is offered. This again adds to claimant frustration, given that the unemployed do not generally have access to fax capabilities, especially during a pandemic! Beyond that, I am sure some people would not even catch this, given the rare use or availability of faxing (or even landlines) in today’s world. I ended up e-mailing my stubs to the address mentioned on the four-minute phone recording and soon after got paid, but I am not sure if those two things are related.
  • It is also unclear WHICH pay stubs are being sought, since this Advisement is immediately following the question: “What would have been your next two regular pay dates?” Obviously, there would be no pay stubs for pay dates that did not (and will not) occur. I ended up sending my final regular pay stub and my stub that included my final week and vacation pay.
  • If a claimant selects PTO as the pay type, there is an additional question to answer that, in my case, did not apply. There was no way to proceed without a response, so I went back and selected vacation pay instead since that is how I had intended to use the time (even though it was technically referred to as PTO by my former employer).

I am a business professional, with 30 years of experience, an MBA, and prior exposure to the unemployment process, and I still was very unsure how to answer some of the questions “properly.” I can only imagine how difficult and frustrating it has been for first-time applicants, especially those not well-versed in technology or “government speak.”

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS (“QUICK-FIX” & LONGER-TERM):

  • Clearly specify the method(s) to use for submitting additional information, including options other than fax.
  • Update the wording of questions to communicate in plain language what information is being requested.
  • Review the cases that have required resolution by a representative to identify instances where clear wording or more/better response options could have eliminated the need for intervention and update the site accordingly.
  • Implement an automated email system to send updates to claimants when any status changes occur on their claim, using plain language to clearly explain the new status and next steps. A system could also be used to send a text with a Web link to the explanatory information or to make automated phone calls to deliver the information. Ideally, claimants could select how they would like to be notified.

PROBLEM #5: Several areas display conflicting and confusing information, with no useful explanation when navigating to status links.

Examples:

  • Even though I have now been paid for the weeks ending 6/13 and 6/25, my Home page still says “Issues Delaying Payment” (Issue=Deductible Income, Note=Pending Resolution). I have no idea what that means or whether there is something else I need to do since I am now receiving payments.
  • Under Claim History, clicking the “N” under Payment Issued for week ending 6/6/20 displays:

6/25/20 Deductible income

6/8/20 Deductible income

(unclear why 6/25 and 6/8 dates are shown under the 6/6 link, adding to the confusion)

6/1/20 Non-pay due to initial hold payment

(as noted in Problem #2, meaning is unclear; could not find an explanation)

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

  • Make sure information presented is consistent and makes sense or, at a minimum, offer an explanation if existing messages/status indicators appear to conflict.
  • Ensure plain language is used to explain the actual meaning when someone clicks a linked status.
  • Ensure all status items are included and clearly described in the Glossary and provide a high-visibility link to this “Description of UI Terms & Messages.”

PROBLEM #6:Media coverage of the progress being made serves to make those claimants who have not received any assistance feel even more alienated as their situations grow ever more dire. 

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Implementing the solutions outlined previously would provide more flexibility, better information, and streamlined filing that could in turn decrease the number of pending cases and provide some reassurance or guidance to specific answers.

PROBLEM #7: Notifications provided by mail are often missing critical information and/or a coherent explanation, leaving claimants thoroughly confused and frustrated. This surely leads to even higher call volumes and more exasperated callers.

Example: On August 5th, I received a form letter indicating that I was potentially eligible for additional benefits, specifically 13 weeks under PEUC and, once exhausted, up to 13 weeks under SEB. It indicates I need to take action to apply for these benefits and recommends doing so online given high call volumes. It also offers two URLs to visit for additional information.

The content and timing of this letter is confusing at best, considering I have only been receiving regular benefits for eight weeks and I appear to be eligible for those for 26 weeks. Why would I be notified about eligibility for extended benefits so far in advance? Why doesn’t the letter give any details on when or outline the timeline or process? Am I mistaken about the number of weeks of regularly eligibility and my regular benefits are somehow about to expire? It didn’t help that it arrived at the same time the media was reporting about additional benefits passed by the Legislature.

I spent hours trying to figure out the answers on the State’s site and could not come to a confident conclusion. The best I can tell is that I still have many weeks of regular eligibility and am hoping the links to apply for extended benefits will appear on my dashboard when I become eligible. They do not currently display under “SmartLinks,” where the site indicates they should.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Ensure that ALL communications clearly outline what they cover, why they were sent, how it applies to the recipient, what the recipient needs to do and when, where the recipient can find more information online (a direct URL to the relevant material). Indicate whether the feature can be accessed at any time or if it will only appear once the recipient is eligible.

I know the State of Nevada has a number of pressing matters to deal with, so I hope this may provide some insight into the nitty-gritty of what is causing some of the frustration for UI claimants and some straightforward ways to address it.

(See additional DETR recommendations at: NV UI ID Verification Collects Video under Duress)

Updated August 16, 2020

Tags: detrfrustrationgovernornevadaSisolakuiunemployment

Sours: http://creativewildcard.com/fixes-for-nevada-unemployment-frustration/

Unemployed Nevadans may have to wait weeks for extended benefits. Here's what you need to know.

LAS VEGAS – While help is on the way for some Nevadans awaiting extended unemployment benefits from the new federal relief bill, others may be waiting weeks. 

On Thursday, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced that help could come as early as this week in the form of $300 supplements.

But there’s a hang-up that could delay payments for many, according to DETR Director Elisa Cafferata.

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is there a delay?

President Donald J. Trump did not sign the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 before Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs expired on Dec. 31, 2020.

"Ultimately, the president signed the bill, and DETR has been working diligently over the holidays to continue payments without interruption to as many eligible Nevadans as we can," Cafferata said in an email to the USA TODAY Network.

While DETR was able to activate changes to allow most claimants to start getting the extra $300 weekly payments right away, the state’s unemployment system will have to wait for guidance from the Department of Labor on the remaining changes.

Related:Las Vegas has highest unemployment rate among largest metro areas

Who has to wait?

PUA and regular unemployment insurance (UI) claimants who have exhausted all of their weeks of eligibility. 

"DETR must wait for guidance from the Dept. of Labor in order to properly update our computer programming and add the new weeks,"  Cafferata said. "Until we receive this guidance, DETR cannot move forward."

Form.

How long will I have to wait?

Depending on the complexity of the guidance, it is anticipated that these changes could be made within four weeks.

The extra $300 benefit expires on the week ending March 13, 2021. Anyone eligible who does not receive the supplement immediately because of the delay in restarting the programs will receive it when their claim is processed.

Read More:Nevada's ongoing unemployment insurance claims fall to lowest level since mid-April

What if my PUA benefits are exhausted?

PUA claimants can file up to 46 weeks without interruption. 

“[But] if claimants have filed all 46 weeks, they will have to wait for the new weeks to be added,” Cafferata said. “Weeks will be added as soon as the guidance is issued.”

What if I have weeks remaining? 

Claims will be reopened with the additional weeks included in the relief package, and the supplemental $300 will be added.

There is no need to take action now. Do not open a new claim.

Who will receive the $300 supplement first?

DETR has completed some of the programming from the federal relief bill for these claimants:

  • Any claimant who was on Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)will continue to be on PEUC and their eligible weeks were automatically extended in accordance with the new federal relief package.
  • Any claimant who had a balance on their PEUC extension as of  Dec. 26, 2020, but had already filed a State Extended Benefits (SEB) claim early will be automatically placed back on PEUC in order to capture the additional weeks.
  • Any claimant who had exhausted PEUC before Dec. 26, 2020 and went on SEB will stay on SEB. When the SEB expires, the claimant will be placed back on PEUC until the expiration of the program.

Officials:Nearly 200,000 Nevadans could lose benefits due to COVID relief package delay

COVID & Unemployment:Nevada virus death toll rises as jobless benefits set to expire

How long is the extension? 

Here's a summary of the benefits included in the federal relief bill, according to DETR: 

For UI Claimants: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides up to 11 additional weeks of federally funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment UI benefits. The PEUC benefit weeks an individual may claim increased from 13 to 24 weeks through the week ending March 13, 2021.  PEUC is not available to PUA claimants.  

For PUA Claimants: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides continued unemployment assistance to the self-employed, freelancers, gig workers, part-time workers and other individuals in non-traditional employment. Claimants can file for PUA benefits for a maximum of 50 weeks. Due to Nevada’s high average insured unemployment rate, the state is currently able to offer an additional 7 weeks of benefits, bringing the total benefit weeks to 57 weeks. No new PUA applications will be accepted after March 13, 2021.  

For Both UI and PUA Claimants: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides eligible claimants an additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits (UI, PUA, PEUC, SEB), starting December 27, 2020 through week ending March 13, 2021.

Should I keep filing my weekly claims?

Yes, according to DETR. 

Eligible claimants who file their weekly claims will receive the additional weeks and the weekly FPUC $300 automatically and should avoid calling the call center if at all possible to inquire about these benefits.

What if I'm a new claimant? 

New claims will be accepted – unless you are seeking PUA.

Due to additional requirements for new PUA filers, DETR must update the PUA application programming before new PUA claims can be filed.

A year in review:The RGJ's top-read stories of 2020: A look back at the year in local news

Tourism I:When will Nevada tourism rebound? 'It's going to be a while.' Here's what needs to happen.

What if I was disqualified from PUA?

The claimant will remain disqualified for the new benefit period.

If the claim has a pending appeal and is later determined to be eligible, the claimant will receive all benefits for all eligible weeks.

What if I'm in the unemployment backlog?

Any unprocessed claims in the backlog will receive retroactive benefits if found eligible. 

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here

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Sours: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2021/01/07/nevada-unemployment-claim-status-withdrawn-extra-300-benefits/6583732002/

Pending nevada unemployment still

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Nevada Department of Employment answers question of pending resolution

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