NJDOL Joins National Association of State Workforce Agencies in Calling for Waiver of Federal Unemployment Overpayments

NJDOL Joins National Association of State Workforce Agencies in Calling for Waiver of Federal Unemployment Overpayments

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has joined the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) in urging Congress to allow states to waive all too many -non-fraudulent pandemic-related unemployment compensation receipts.

NASWA leaders wrote a letter to congressional leaders this month stressing the need for the overpayment waiver award.

Changing federal eligibility rules have rendered millions of workers across the country ineligible for the pandemic unemployment compensation they previously received, generating overpayments.

The signatories to the letter were: New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, Chairman of the Board of NASWA; Board Chair-Elect Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development; and NASWA President and CEO Scott B. Sanders. The letter was addressed to the following people: Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Millions of unemployed workers deemed eligible for federal pandemic unemployment benefits later found out the rules had changed and, through no fault of their own, were no longer considered eligible — months after they spent the money to necessities like food and shelter,” Asaro-Angelo said. “Trying to recover these funds after the fact stresses these workers and their families, strains the resource system with little chance of success, and defeats our mission to help people in times of need.”

Congress expanded federal unemployment benefits with the CARES Act in March 2020, the Continuing Assistance Act in December 2020, and the U.S. bailout in March 2021. The evolution of federal guidelines after the CARES Act and changes The Continuing Assistance Act’s eligibility requirements resulted in overpayments for claimants who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits months prior. The PUA program expired on September 4, 2021.

In the letter, NASWA leaders are asking Congress to authorize states to waive all non-fraudulent overpayments of federal programs to avoid further economic hardship for those recipients.

The leaders are also calling for states to be held harmless for uncollectible payments under the Lost Wage Assistance (LWA) program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) in the fall of 2020, as long as efforts to good faith are made to recover undue payments.

An extension of interest payment waivers and accrual of interest on federal advances to state unemployment trust funds has also been requested.

Asaro-Angelo has strongly and repeatedly advocated for federal reform of the unemployment insurance system throughout the pandemic, with every state facing record unemployment claims. New Jersey has been at the forefront of Unemployment Insurance improvements, creating innovative solutions to pay benefits during a time of unprecedented demand and consistently being at or near the top of the states with the highest percentage higher number of unemployed who successfully receive benefits.

Because of these accomplishments, New Jersey was recently selected by USDOL and the US Digital Service (USDS), hosted by the Office of the President, as a pilot state for modernizing and improving the federal insurance system. unemployment. The Claimant Experience Pilot’s goal is to design an application system that provides fair and timely access to unemployment benefits for eligible workers, while eliminating identity theft and other fraudulent claims that have bogged down state unemployment systems throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The other partner pilot state is Arkansas.

“As evidenced by the piecemeal policies we are still trying to iron out months after they expired, it is clear that our federal unemployment system was not designed to meet the needs of today’s workers,” Asaro said. -Angelo. “Together with Congress and other federal partners, I hope we can create a system that will provide reliable support to every state and every worker.”

To read the full letter: https://www.naswa.org/government-relations/congressional-testimony/naswa-letter-on-pandemic-ui-requests

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Michael A. Bynum