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People who submitted weekly certificates didn't get their benefits. Here's why

Posted at 5:21 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 18:19:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The State Department of Labor says unemployed New Yorkers need to submit a weekly certification to receive their payments. If they didn't, that is the reason their benefits are delayed.

7EWN spoke with a few people who said they have been submitting those certificates, and they either received a one-time payment of $600 dollars or haven't been paid at all.

"Over two months of being unemployed and in our household there's no income. So it's getting scary. If it wasn't for the help of family and friends we wouldn't be eating," said Jillian Giambra.

Giambra said she's on maternity leave, and her husband is still waiting to receive a check from New York State unemployment. She said they can only rely on family and friends for so long, as the well is running dry.

Giambra said they've been submitting the weekly certificate, as they’re supposed to be doing, but still haven't received a single payment.

"And they're just telling us to sit tight. That's all they're saying, sit tight," said Giambra.

Under Federal law, weekly certification is required for those utilizing traditional unemployment insurance and the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

This is done to assure those receiving benefits fit the proper criteria, including whether they were truly unemployed for the past week.

Giambra said she believes the department of labor is trying its best, but a lot of her questions on the new versus old system for applications aren't answered.

"The little information they do give us is such a broad statement," she said.

Neal Scott filed for unemployment in March. Last month he applied for Pandemic Unemployment assistance and said so far, he’s only received a one-time payment of $600.

And when he calls to submit his weekly certification, he said he’s told his application isn't on file.

"This is not a time really to blame anybody, but it's a time that we need to come up with solutions," said Scott.

The labor department commissioner is once again asking for patience.

“Some of these claims take much longer than others and that’s just a sad, simple truth and the certification helps us. Don’t stop certifying and we will get to you,” said Commissioner Roberta Reardon.

"In New York, we are moving faster and more aggressively than other states to deliver New Yorkers' benefits and in just a matter of weeks, we have paid more than $4.6 billion to well over 1 million New Yorkers. Because of contradictory and cumbersome federal guidance, this subset of New Yorkers was mired in additional red tape -- so we moved heaven and earth to certify these payments while their claims are being processed, and we continue to expedite those efforts," said Deanna Cohen with the DOL.

She adds:

  • DOL has issued $600 payments to a limited group of individuals who were stuck in the initial, illogical federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application process because of contradictory and cumbersome federal guidance.
  • PUA was created on March 27th when the CARES Act was signed, but the Federal government didn't give us guidance on the program until April 5th -- and that guidance was cumbersome, saying you had to first apply for traditional unemployment insurance, knowing you would be denied ... then get denied ... then apply for PUA. We've gotten that process changed now, and launched a streamlined application on Monday 4/20 that allows you to apply one place and we put you in the right bucket, for traditional unemployment insurance or PUA.
  • So, these payments went to individuals who were caught in that initial, illogical process where you had to apply, get denied, and apply again. We’re getting them this initial payment — which is the $600 federal pandemic unemployment compensation, a supplemental benefit — while we process their applications.
  • The DOL intend to continue these payments as these individuals' applications are processed