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Home » News » New York State » Lawmaker calls for safeguards to help people get unemployment benefits as tens-of-thousands remain in limbo

Lawmaker calls for safeguards to help people get unemployment benefits as tens-of-thousands remain in limbo

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay is calling for the State Department of Labor to take action to improve responsiveness and performance in delivering unemployment benefits to New Yorkers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said repeatedly that New York is doing better than other states, but Secretary Melissa DeRosa confirmed days ago that more than 90,000 remained unfulfilled.

Countless respondents have said they are still waiting weeks later for an initial callback by the DOL. For his part, Barclay says many of the concerns being expressed by constituents and proposed measures are designed to create greater accountability in the agency.

“Every day, my office is inundated with calls from people in complete desperation. Some are literally in tears, begging for help. The frustration with the state Department of Labor is tangible and it is not subsiding. People have waited and waited, and now they are out of patience and out of options,” Leader Barclay said. “All of us understand that the initial volume of claims was unprecedented and overwhelmed the system. The Department has tried to make changes, but that’s of no consolation to people who were forced out of work and haven’t seen a paycheck in more than a month. It’s been eight weeks since the governor started closing businesses. Whatever steps the state has taken haven’t been fast enough or effective enough.”

There are 1.4 million people out of work in New York, and more than 33 million jobless claims filed to date in the last month-and-a-half across the U.S. Pew research found that more than 70% of those who applied for unemployment across the U.S. had still not received any payment or benefits since applying in March.

For New York, Barclay issued the following guidance:

– provide daily statistics on the number of outstanding claims and average length of time those claims have been with DOL;

– update daily the number of new claims filed each day;

– give every applicant a time estimate on how long their claim will take to be processed;

– set a deadline to close all outstanding cases;

– provide estimates on future unemployment claims based on possible extension of Gov. Cuomo’s “New York on Pause” restrictions; and

– submit a list of mitigation measures to be implemented that will lessen wait times, improve responsiveness and deliver unemployment benefits.