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Letter to Honorable Larry D. Turner, Acting Inspector General - Sens. Ossoff & Warnock Join Rep. Bourdeaux in Calling for Review of Unemployment Benefit Delays in Georgia

Letter

Dear Mr. Turner,
For the last year, millions of Americans have been forced out of work because of the COVID-19
pandemic. In response, Congress has acted to boost unemployment assistance during these
unprecedented times, including in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R.1319), which
extends enhanced unemployment insurance for tens of thousands of Georgians who are currently
relying on these benefits until September 6, 2021. But too many people are still waiting for help.
In Georgia, frustrations are mounting over the delays in delivering unemployment benefits. As of
March 2021, Congress has allocated $67 million to the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) to
assist the state with the administrative functions required to set up programs to administer and
distribute the three temporary unemployment insurance benefits created under the Coronavirus
Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116--136): Federal Pandemic
Unemployment Compensation (FPUC); Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
(PEUC); and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
This assistance includes funds for baseline administration of the emergency COVID-19 benefits,
emergency administrative funds, and funds to combat unemployment insurance fraud and
identity theft. Despite supplemental federal financial assistance, there are widespread and
ongoing complaints about the Georgia DOL's continued inability to timely pay valid claims, to
promptly hear unemployment claims, and to pay unemployment benefits to qualified claimants.
According to recent reports, the state is "still struggling to get unemployment benefits to out-ofwork Georgians in a timely manner."1 Although there are 400,000 Georgians who are currently
receiving unemployment benefits, there are about 180,000 who have yet to have their
applications approved. For many of the 400,000 constituents, it took months of phone calls and
emails to the Georgia DOL and the intervention of congressional offices for constituents to
finally begin receiving the assistance they so desperately needed.
An overwhelming number of Georgians have also resorted to calling their State Representatives
and State Senators seeking help with getting their unemployment benefits because they had such
difficulty contacting staff members at the Georgia DOL. In these calls, they express how they are
in fear of losing their homes and that they cannot purchase groceries for their families because
their unemployment checks never arrived even though they are valid claimants.
As a result, members of the Georgia General Assembly have contacted our offices about the
ongoing issues citing a "lack of transparency, discrepancies in data reported in press releases and
on the website, and violations of federal statutes requiring timely payment of Unemployment
Insurance (UI) benefits."2 The breakdowns in the system are so egregious that we are requesting
that your office perform an audit of the Georgia DOL Unemployment Insurance claims
processing and payment system.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will soon allocate $2 billion to the U.S. Department of
Labor to support program integrity and timely access to benefits and $8 million to the U.S.
Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration for costs related to day-to-day
federal administration of unemployment insurance. As we prepare to provide additional funding
for program administration, we need to ensure that the funds are used appropriately.
If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Thomaesa Bailey with
Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux at Thomaesa.Bailey@mail.house.gov.
Sincerely,


Source
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