Vermont directed to review thousands of unemployment claims

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 1:40 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The U.S. Labor Department has directed Vermont to review eligibility for thousands of Vermonters who received unemployment benefits over the last year. The story was first reported by VTDigger.

Last spring, when a crush of unemployment claims flooded the state’s system, the state bypassed some eligibility reviews to get money out the door to Vermonters.

The federal government says this creates a “substantial compliance issue” under federal law and the potential for overpayments.

Now, the state must go back and review more than 10,000 claims to check their eligibility.

Leaders with the department say they’re concerned that running these checks could cause delays in payments for some 20,000 Vermonters currently collecting state benefits.

“What we don’t want to do is get into a situation where we’re having to review 20, 30, 40, 50,000 claims and issue determinations on every one of them. It would completely overwhelm our system and bring our processing to a grinding halt,” Vermont Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington said.

Both the labor department and Vermont’s congressional delegation have asked the federal government to reverse its decision.

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