Jul 13, 2022 - News

Virginia's unemployment insurance problems persist

Illustration of a janitor pushing a pile of pink slips
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virginia's unemployment insurance system is still sucking wind more than two years after the pandemic led to an unprecedented surge in claims.

What's happening: Virginia remains one of the slowest states in the country when it comes to determining eligibility for benefits.

  • Virginia ranked 44 out of 50 last quarter for its ability to make key eligibility decisions within 21 days, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • The state met the federal standard for timeliness in just under 24% of cases during the time period, per DOL statistics.

Yes, but: It's still an improvement from earlier in the pandemic, when Virginia was dead last and meeting the 21-day deadline in just 3% of claims.

What they're saying: Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration has touted progress since taking office six months ago.

  • "We've made some significant headway, but there's a lot of work that remains to be done," Virginia employment commissioner Carrie Roth told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Separately, the commission announced it is resuming efforts to collect more than $859 million in overpayments — money the agency paid out to people later determined to be ineligible.

  • Repayment waivers, which the General Assembly passed last year because of the overwhelming issues at the agency, are still available for benefits received before July 2021.
  • So far, the commission has waived $64.5 million in overpayments made to 18,000 people, according to data provided to the GA.

What's next: Del. Sally Hudson, a Charlottesville Democrat who sponsored legislation allowing the waivers, encouraged people facing collections efforts to follow instructions provided by the commission, but also contact their local delegate or state senator to help with the request.

  • "Technically, it's still very messy," she tells Axios. "Some people are still getting fists full of letters in the mail."
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