In a letter to US Senate Leadership today the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) raised significant administrative issues with the currently proposed EUC extension bill agreed to by of 10 U.S. Senators led by Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dean Heller (R-NV) to reauthorize the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for five months. The bill, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 (S. 2148), would allow for retroactive payments to eligible beneficiaries when the program expired on December 28, 2013.
The NASWA letter and fact sheet (attached) sent to the Senate leadership detailed the administrative burden on states with a retroactive extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. The Senate is poised to vote on this legislation next week when it returns from its recess.
NASWA did not take a position on whether to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act program but has significant concerns about the implementation of the legislation.
Some states have indicated they might decide the changes in S. 2148 are not feasible in the short time available, and therefore would consider not signing the U.S. Department of Labor’s agreement to operate the program.
The reasons are the following:
- Most states are struggling with antiquated and rigid computer systems — averaging 25 years old — thus making it very hard to implement program changes quickly and effectively.
- The legislation is not clear on how states would pay for the administration of their EUC claims process if federal funds cannot be spent to determine an individual’s eligibility.
- The “millionaire provision” would be very hard to administer. The UI system is not means-tested and therefore does not collect information on an individual’s adjusted gross income. Screening individuals by reported quarterly UI covered wages, rather than income tax information, would be a more feasible approach.
- The backdating of EUC claims to December 29, 2013, would make it nearly impossible, in many cases, to apply a state’s weekly work search requirement, a key factor to determine eligibility for UI benefits and to avoid improper payments to claimants who are ineligible.
UWC has pointed out many of these issues with congressional staff and in our earlier e-mail updates as well.
The NASWA letter is helpful in more clearly identifying the administrative issues faced by state workforce agencies. We continue to work with them and with members of Congress to respond to proposed EUC extension legislation.