Delegation Calls on U.S. Department of Labor to Provide Additional Resources to States to Expedite Processing of Unemployment Claims

April 16, 2020

**An unprecedented volume of unemployment benefit claims have led to significant delays as over 100,000 Granite Staters file for unemployment benefits during COVID-19 crisis**


Concord, NH - Today,  U.S. Senators Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) called on Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to work expeditiously with state employment agencies to ensure that eligible Americans receive unemployment benefits without further delay.

“The COVID-19 crisis is like no challenge we have faced before,” the delegation wrote. “When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) of 2020, we did so with the intent of getting economic support to struggling individuals as quickly as possible. It is essential that your Department act within the spirit of the CARES Act and help state Employment Security Offices get benefits out the door as quickly as possible. Out of work families and individuals in New Hampshire and across the country cannot wait.”

Over the past several weeks, more than 100,000 Granite Staters and over 22 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits. In New Hampshire, the state workforce agency has been inundated with an unprecedented volume of unemployment claims and are working around the clock. In the letter, the Delegation calls on the Department of Labor to address staffing and technology needs to ensure that Americans who are facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 will receive their benefits without further delay.

The letter is available here and below:

April 16, 2020


Dear Secretary Scalia: 

As millions of Americans have unexpectedly found themselves furloughed or laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that the Department of Labor work expeditiously with state employment agencies to ensure that eligible Americans receive unemployment benefits. With millions of Americans, and over 100,000 Granite Staters applying for unemployment benefits over the past several weeks, state workforce agencies have been inundated and are working around the clock to manage this unprecedented volume. Our Employment Security office has been working diligently, and we urge your Department to work with state agencies and provide guidance that will expedite the approval and processing of claims to ensure that financially strained Americans are receiving the benefits they deserve without further delay. 

The COVID-19 crisis is like no challenge we have faced before. When Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) of 2020, we did so with the intent of getting economic support to struggling individuals as quickly as possible. It is essential that your Department act within the spirit of the CARES Act and help state Employment Security Offices get benefits out the door as quickly as possible. Out of work families and individuals in New Hampshire and across the country cannot wait. 

Furthermore, Section 2104 of the CARES Act authorizes a short-term increase of $600 per week through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program. This critical funding will help support the financial needs of Americans who have been economically distressed as a result of COVID-19. In addition to these efforts, the COVID-19 response packages provided considerable resources to hire workers and bolster state technology infrastructure to ramp up the administration of unemployment benefits.  

We appreciate the Department of Labor’s issuance of guidance on April 4, 2020 that provides states with the operating, financial and reporting instructions to administer the FPUC Program. As states work to further operationalize the FPUC program, we urge your Department to use every resource possible to ensure that state workforce agencies' needs are being met to enhance the ability to quickly administer the FPUC Program. The historic nature of this economic crisis has overwhelmed state employment agencies who need additional staff and information technology enhancements to streamline the process for administering benefits. It is imperative that your Department work in close coordination to ensure these needs are met so that unemployed Americans can receive financial relief. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to your response.