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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman David Scott (GA-13)

This week, Representative David Scott (GA-13), along with Reps. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Hank Johnson (GA-04) and Lucy McBath (GA-06), sent a letter to the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) Commissioner urging the agency to resolve the significant backlog of unemployment benefits claims for Georgia workers.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates hit levels not seen since the Great Depression. While these rates have begun to decline, many Georgians have yet to receive their benefits or even reliable communications from GDOL. Throughout the duration of the pandemic, the Representatives’ offices have been inundated with a staggering number of inquiries from their constituents concerning the status of their unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance applications and benefits.

“In April, more than 614,000 workers applied for unemployment benefits in Georgia, bringing the state’s unemployment rate to an all-time high of 12.6 percent,” said Rep. Scott. “Sadly, thousands of Georgians are still waiting over six months later to receive assistance or simple and regular updates about their claims from the Georgia Department of Labor. This is unacceptable. Hard-working Georgians who have lost their jobs due to this pandemic and no fault of their own deserve support during their time of urgent need. We need answers now on what steps GDOL will take to reduce their significant backlog.”

“In the time of COVID-19 which has caused record unemployment, we need answers and actions to determine why Georgians are not receiving their unemployment benefits on time,” said Rep. Bishop.  “Late benefits mean late rent checks, late bill payments, and potentially missed meals. I am hopeful we can come to a solution to support Georgians who are struggling during this pandemic.”

“Citizens of our great state of Georgia have been denied the unemployment benefits a bipartisan majority in Congress provided for them in the CARES Act,” stated Rep. Johnson. “Their unemployment benefits have been caught up in bureaucratic red tape — their petitions to the Georgia Department of Labor left to languish as rent comes due, more jobs are lost, and family members get sick. We need to understand why these valid claims aren’t being met with the attention they deserve and find a way to streamline this process as we move forward.”

You can read the full letter here or below.

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The Honorable Mark Butler

Georgia Commissioner of Labor

148 Andrew Young International Blvd NE

Sussex Place, Room 600

Atlanta, GA 30303

Dear Commissioner Butler:

As members of the Georgia delegation, we write to express our concerns regarding the significant delays our constituents have faced in attempting to obtain their unemployment insurance (UI) program benefits since April. The Federal-State UI program is critical to preventing those who have lost their job through no fault of their own from falling through the cracks, especially during a period of significant economic downturn and a public health emergency like we are facing today.

As you are well aware, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates hit levels not seen since the Great Depression. While we are relieved that these rates have begun to decline, many Georgians have yet to receive their benefits, or even reliable communications, from the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL). Throughout the duration of the pandemic, our offices have continued to receive a staggering number of inquiries from our constituents concerning the status of their UI and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) applications and benefits.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the hard-working employees at the GDOL, who are under significant stress and working overtime to process the historic number of claims. However, when constituents’ inquiries are not sufficiently addressed by GDOL, they have no alternative but to ask their local, state, and federal representatives for assistance. We understand that some cases have special circumstances that require our help, but Georgians should expect to receive consistent communications from GDOL. As such, we request that GDOL develop a process to inform applicants of the status of their claims in a timely manner.

We, the Georgia delegation, are committed to working with you in order to ensure our constituents facing economic hardship during these unprecedented times receive their unemployment benefits as swiftly as possible. We all have the same goals – we want to ensure all Georgians can keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. We look forward to your prompt response to this letter as well as to the following inquiries:

1.     Why are individuals who have already been approved for benefits experiencing a delay in receiving their payments?

2.     What changes have you made to address the existing backlog of cases?

3.     How many Georgians have pending applications, and how long have they been pending?

4.     How many Georgians have consistently received their benefits, uninterrupted, on a weekly basis?

Sincerely,

Rep. David Scott                                                                   

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.

Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.                                       

Rep. Lucy McBath

CC:

The Honorable Brian P. Kemp

MIL OSI USA News