Millions may be getting shortchanged on unemployment benefits, GAO finds

Millions of jobless people may not be receiving the full unemployment payments they are owed, a government watchdog report released Monday found.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Tami Luhby
November 30, 2020

Tags: COVID-19, Unemployment, Unemployment Insurance


Also, the weekly Department of Labor report on unemployment claims is not providing an accurate estimate of the number of Americans claiming benefits during the pandemic, according to the US Government Accountability Office. That’s because of backlogs in processing a historic number of claims that overwhelmed many state agencies, among other data issues.
The shortchanging comes in the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress created last spring to provide benefits to the self-employed, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The majority of states have been paying claimants in this program the minimum benefit instead of the amount they are eligible for based on prior earnings, the GAO said. Most states decided to do this initially to get the new program up and running faster, but then did not recalculate benefits based on actual earnings.