‘More still needs to be done’: Despite Dept. of Labor’s progress, backlog of unemployment claims remains

Reuters/Nick Oxford

As Queens residents struggle to file their unemployment claims, state Senator Joseph Addabbo participated in a Zoom conference with other state legislators and NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon to discuss how the department is handling the influx of claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Reardon, between March 8 and May 9, the NYS Department of Labor has taken in nearly 2 million unemployment claims, which is more than 2 ½ years’ worth of claims in just a two-month period.

In order to help process these unprecedented numbers of claims, the Department of Labor has rolled out a new, secure online system that allows New Yorkers to easily submit prior weeks’ certifications that they may have missed. They have also expanded their workforce, with more than 4,000 staff and 3,000 volunteers working 12-hour shifts, to make calls to those waiting to hear about the status of their claims.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put millions of New Yorkers out of work, more than during the Great Depression,” Addabbo said. “As the Department of Labor continues to receive claim applications, they are dedicated to prioritizing those claims that were filed first.”

Addabbo explained that a number of factors could delay an individual’s unemployment claim, such as incorrect information given to the Department of Labor, the complexity of an individual’s work history, or the federal requirements of properly identifying the individual and certifying the benefits. More information is available here.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office recently sent out a release stating that the Department of Labor has paid out more than $10 billion to over 2 million New Yorkers. The backlog of pending unemployment benefit applications that were filed before April 27 has been reduced to 7,580, which includes applications that are missing critical information and cannot be processed, duplicates and abandoned claims.

There are also an additional 20,801 claims filed before April 22 that have been processed but cannot be paid until federally mandated weekly certifications are submitted.

“While great strides have been made at the Department of Labor to clear the backlog of claims, more still needs to be done,” Addabbo said. “I appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Department of Labor employees, and I want to thank Commissioner Reardon for keeping us legislators updated on this situation, as many of our constituents are concerned about their benefits. We need to continue to work together to ensure that all New Yorkers are able to financially survive this pandemic. I look forward to assisting my constituents with their unemployment claims.”

Addabbo’s Howard Beach and Middle Village offices are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a team member can be reached at 718-738-1111 or 718-497-1630. After 2 p.m., a 24/7 live operator will be available.

The building where Addabbo’s Rockaway office is located is currently undergoing renovations and is therefore closed, but constituents on the peninsula can still call 718-318-0702 to reach a staff member.