NY Unemployment: 470,000 applicants failed to certify, lawmakers want an investigation into departments response to flood of claims

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ALBANY, NY (WSYR-TV) — As we continue to hear from viewers frustrated they are unable to collect unemployment insurance, state labor officials identified 470,000 people whose applications have been approved, but have yet to collect any money.

The reason?

According to New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, those applicants did not certify their jobless status in previous weeks.

Anyone collecting unemployment insurance or the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is required by the federal government to certify each week they remain unemployed and to respond to a series of questions about their job status and availability to work.

That can be done online or through an automated phone system.

If you missed certifying, the Labor Department required a phone call to speak to an agent.

Reardon says that has proved a challenge since the department has experienced a 16,000 % increase in call volume since the COVID1-19 crisis hit.

“So today I’m announcing that we will be launching a streamlined process for New Yorkers to submit previous weeks certifications online as part of this new process, we will directly email New Yorkers with missing certifications from previous weeks to inform them of the situation and we will include in that email a secure form that they can use to submit their information which we will then verify process and pay,” Reardon said.

Shortly after Reardon’s conference call, New York State Senator Joe Griffo and James Seward called on the state comptroller’s office to audit the department’s response to COVID-19 unemployment claims.

They also called for an investigation by the State Legislative Joint Committee.

“Many people have been waiting weeks, even months, for essential unemployment benefits to feed their families and maintain some semblance of a normal life,”  said Seward. “I join with my fellow senators and assembly members calling for immediate help for those in need, and long-term solutions to repair what is clearly a broken system.”

The labor department says it has paid out more than $5.8 billion in benefits since the COVID-19 crisis began in med-March.

For comparison, the department said it paid $2.14 billion in all of 2019.

Here’s a story we put together last week about the tsunami of unemployment applications New York and the rest of the nation endured during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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