KDOL says ‘archaic’ system has created delays, changes coming

Kansas

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Labor announced changes this morning to how it will report the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claimant backlog.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a temporary program that expands unemployment insurance eligibility to self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Because Congress’ lack of action at the end of 2020 a gap period was created. The gap period has created some confusion for claimants who had used up regular state unemployment benefits and the extension of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program benefits.

“Without the extension at the federal level, claimants were instructed to file for PUA, which is intended to be the benefit of last resort for unemployment benefits. When the Continued Assistance Act was signed Dec. 27, 2020, those claimants became eligible for further PEUC benefits, but development and deployment took time in KDOL’s archaic, legacy IT system.”

Kansas Department of Labor

There’s been concern over the backlog, since some Kansans that have applied for federal unemployment benefits are experiencing payment delays. The PUA program, being the one with the most claims in the backlog last year, has become a focal point.

The agency has been putting out weekly updates this year, which includes numbers in that backlog.

Thousands of unemployed Kansans have struggled through the pandemic, with some still waiting to get unemployment payments.

This week, the state’s labor office reported numbers for the backlog, as of May 11, 2021. 16,465 legitimate claims in the determination process for one of the federal programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. 11,680 claims are reported to be in the verification/upload process for more than 21 days.

Numbers updated for May 12, 2021 reflect the following:

  •  There are approximately 1,500 PUA claimants with PUA issues that need to be adjudicated. This is the backlog of individuals awaiting PUA adjudication and our team is working to reduce this number.
  • There are approximately 10,100 claimants who have been moved from PUA to another unemployment program where they are able to receive benefits. 
  •  There are approximately 3,770 claims that are likely to be fraudulent

The department says it’s reporting the claimants with PUA issues that need to be adjudicated moving forward.

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