Tech glitch leads to some gig workers getting OK for jobless benefits before claim was scrutinized

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A state Labor Department computer glitch led to a number of self-employed and “gig” workers filing getting a notice that money was coming when instead their jobless claim was still under review.

Last week the department announced that the first payments were made through the new (PUA) system for approved claims, a social media post stated.

The PUA system required setting up a separate clams system since the workers are not covered under the state’s unemployment compensation system for workers earning wages or salaries from employers.

For reasons that were not disclosed, the system marked far more claims as processed than had been reviewed and approved by staff.

As a result of this system error, the online view for many claimants was changed to show a payment was to be made. The problem was corrected and the “processed” status was reversed for claims that had not yet been approved for payment.

PUA claims will be paid in batches after passing an internal review process. The program that was part of the federal CARES Act has been under criticism for the slowness of the claims process.

The Delaware Department of Labor is validating each claim with data from the state Department of Revenue and the IRS to verify claimant’s 2019 and/or 2020 earnings.

“We are working as quickly as possible to review, approve, and pay these unique claims while avoiding the threats of fraud and identity theft occurring around the country,” the release stated.

To date, a few hundred initial PUA claims have been paid with more expected in the coming days and weeks as the process speeds up.

Claimants are advised to continue to file their weekly earnings and be certain to provide documentation of 2019 and/or 2020 wages. The best documents to use are 1099s, W2s, pay stubs, and/or tax returns.

“We apologize for any delay in processing your PUA claim. Our team is working hard to manage this new program and a historic number of claims in order to get benefits out to each qualified claimant,” the release concluded.

A Department of Labor spokesman did not immediately respond for a request for comment on the number of claims that were affected by the error.

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