Public Comments for 07/18/2023 Unemployment Compensation, Commission on - Unemployment Insurance Subcommittee
Last Name: Manning Locality: Christiansburg

I tried to contact VEC to get help to understand how to do everything and they were closed. It is so complicated for me to respond and understand it has been very frustrating for me and hard to follow through with all the paperwork with no help at all I counted on VEC to be there for me for that reason but I was a claimant who was denied my appeal. My hearing took 2yrs to finally take place and the officer never wanted to acknowledge COVID has being a factor.I needed in person asisttance the local VEC office was not answering the phone on the 28 of February and you could not get in the building before the lockdown (I tried calling numerous times and could never get thru and drove to the VEC serval times before Ralph Northam locked the state down in mid March of 2020) I don't own a computer and have iphone but don't know how to file on line I didn't get any one to file my claim until July 12 2020 (they sent a WAY TO GO CARD that never worked and they finally deposited some money in my checking account in February of 2021)I got my paper soon after that but didn't understand what I was getting paid and the girl tried numerous times to back date my claim but couldn't do it. She says that they have beaten me out of over 14000 dollars and that the Care act was retroactive. I was assaulted on my job December 4 2019 and left the building and never went back and pressed charges on the guy who Assaulted me and he was convicted of assault on the 27 of February 2020 and one of the people in the court house suggested that I file for Unemployment so that is when I tried to file and could not get anyone to help me until July of 2020. They know that they where shut down for weeks but place the blame on me for not filing a appeal on time were no where to be found. HELP ME!!!!

Last Name: Chegin Locality: Virginia Beach

Comments Document

Covid robbed me of my 25 year teaching job. I taught reading to four year olds. My school had been open for 50 years and closed permanently. Collecting unemployment was a necessity. However, I have still not received 10 weeks of my benefits. The process to file constantly changed and trying to get answers is impossible. I am attaching a file with the 10 weeks of filing confirmation. Please help! Thank you in advance! Barbara Chegin

Last Name: Chegin Locality: Virginia Beach

Comments Document

Covid robbed me of my 25 year teaching job. I taught reading to four year olds. My school had been open for 50 years and closed permanently. Collecting unemployment was a necessity. However, I have still not received 10 weeks of my benefits. The process to file constantly changed and trying to get answers is impossible. I am attaching a file with the 10 weeks of filing confirmation. Please help! Thank you in advance! Barbara Chegin

Last Name: Jones Organization: None Locality: Selma ALABAMA

Matthew Jones Claimant ID: 52951944 Docket UI:2239717 I was wrongfully denied my unemployment benefits because the VEC mishandled my information I gave them that should have been put in the system and recorded from my first phone call with them. Now a second time you ask for the same information I gave VEC on the phone, so this time the information is faxed to you by the Career Center in Selma Al. So finally you send me a Monetary Determination Letter that states what you want to pay me weekly and for how long. So I don't agree with the number of weeks you suggested. Then the VEC decides to ignore me and not answer the phone or contact me for several months after that. Then out the blue they send a letter in the mail asking for the same information I have given them at least twice before. Now someone needs to explain what happened to all the information I gave them if the VEC supposed to file and record information. I did my job by giving you the information the first and second time you asked so I should have received compensation but instead the VEC kept mishandling my information and don't want to take responsibility for their mistakes in the process. Now when this letter comes I'm working out of town so when I finally come home to check on my affairs and mail, I missed the deadline so now the VEC deny my claim. I can't sit around the house waiting on the VEC to send me information about my claim because I have to go out and work to pay bills and support my kids. Now I think the VEC is full of racist people because ain't no way the VEC mishandled my information unless they did it on purpose because I'm BLACK! I need someone to investigate my claim and find out why it was mishandled.

Last Name: Fountain Locality: Petersburg

Hello, I’m writing this letter because I currently haven’t received my unemployment for this week witch is July 17th,2023 . I’ve had to call and open a knew claim for three weeks sence July 1,st. This is really keeping me stagnant in life because I need help buying gas and personal supplies and food. Also I’ve been filling sence June and the only time I’ve received payment was June 6th and that was it

Last Name: Seward Locality: Richmond

The process and forms and policies for filing for unemployment during a National emergency such as Covid needs to be reviewed and streamlined for efficacy and effectiveness. The web site was unusable and the entire communication system was non functional. No one was reachable nor answered their phones, emails . When a state employee is furloughed during COVI D unemployment compensation is a given. Have you revised the application and the process to reflect future emergencies?

Last Name: Thomas Locality: Bedford

I received unemployment benefits for 3 months after I was temporarily laid off during the covid shutdown in 2020. A year and a half later, the VEC sent me a letter finding me ineligible for benefits because I was "unable and unavailable for work." The result, of course being, that I would have to repay them all the benefits I received during that time (roughly $9,000). After waiting another year and a half after noting my first-level appeal, I finally received a decision affirming the fact that I was not "able and available for work" (because I was out of work due to the shutdown), and was ineligible. I had to appeal it to the Commission and hire a lawyer, before I was ever able to get any information about what had actually happened. My attorney was able to resolve my case in a week, the end result being a "waiver" of my overpayment. There is no reason it should have taken the VEC three years to process my claim, when they could have done with me, what they did for my lawyer in just a week's time. My unemployment claim was an agonizingly slow, uninformative, and frustrating process. Had I had some guidance and communication from the VEC from the beginning, my entire issue could have been avoided. I am not alone. The VEC has impacted thousands of Virginians in the same way I was impacted. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released its report on the Operations and Performance of the VEC in November of 2021. It identified myriad deficits within the agency and opined “If these claimants had received clear information about the “able and available to work” requirement and identity verification requirements, some of VEC’s existing adjudication backlog and call volume tied to these issues could have been avoided.” The need for transparency, accessibility to information, and improved communication methods are critical changes that are needed both in legislation and within the agency itself to compensate for the unprecedented challenges caused to the unemployment system in 2020. Virginians deserve better.

Last Name: Sallee Locality: Blacksburg

I was first notified on 5/21/2021 by VEC that I had been deemed ineligible for benefits I'd received from 5/24/2020 through 7/18/2020 because "claimant's separation from employment is the result of a break in academic years or terms or a holiday recess, and the claimant has a reasonable assurance of returning to employment with this or another educational institution in the next year or term or after the holiday recess." My school system shut down due to COVID. It was not a break or holiday. There was no "assurance" of returning because we were in a pandemic - no assurance could be presumed. On top of that, I was the Program Coordinator for a Before/After School Program (both during the academic year and then full days during the summer) at an elementary school. I worked year-round and during holidays. My job did not go on break. I have submitted all the required appeals, on time, by certified letter, and have the receipts. Two years after receiving the first VEC notification, I had an appeals hearing by phone but the VEC fumbled the hearing because they did not notify my employer and, since they were supposed to attend, the VEC had to stop the hearing. That was in February of 2023. I have yet to be notified of the rescheduled hearing date. I am three years out from the contested time period, and I remain at the mercy of the VEC, their dilapidated computer system, and their short-staffed, or non-existent customer service team. Maybe I'll hear from them tomorrow. I believe it's an insult that there is no deadline for the VEC to complete this work. There is also no recourse for citizens that yield relief from the omnipresent threat to our financial stability and mental health. Please remove the ridiculously dysfunctional Virginia Interactive company who blew the development of the computer infrastructure/database platform for the VEC and get a reputable and efficient systems development company to FIX THIS. FUND the VEC to achieve the needed capacity for the work being thrown at them. And, really, why don't you drop these cases from 2020 as a mercy to those of us who have tried and tried and tried to work within the system but are still hanging in the wind. I wish there was a class action suit that I could join.

Last Name: Brown Organization: referral Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Glenda Brown and my issues and problems with the Virginia Employment Commission date back to March 5, 2020, to the Present, despite the numerous complaints I have filed against the Virginia Employment Commission and various employees that went nowhere and were all in vain despite my attempts to resolve my issues and problems with the Virginia Employment Commission to no avail. My complaints also included the Fredericksburg & Richmond, VA offices as well. I believe the Fredericksburg office has closed or is in the process of closing if it hasn’t already. I have all the correspondence stemming from all of my issues and problems with the Virginia Employment Commission which includes over 130 emails, over 250 complaints with the Governor’s office, the old and new Governor, EEOC complaints I filed, letters, mail notices, faxes, etc. from March 5, 2020, to the Present. My complaints included account errors and issues with pertinent information being deleted and removed, conspiracy issues, cover-ups within the Virginia Employment Commission by various employees, wrongdoing by various employees at the Virginia Employment Commission, civil rights violations, discrimination based on the numerous complaints I filed, being provided incorrect information over and over again, my name being listed as Wanda Brown instead of Glenda Brown, filing an EEOC complaint against the Virginia Employment Commission having a $0 balance then being told that I owe the Virginia Employment Commission $28,306 despite the fact that I had previously asked about filing a waiver regarding this matter and was told that I did not need to file a waiver during the time in which I asked because I had a $0 balance, fraud of all types, incorrect 1099-G from 2021, and adding insult to injury the Virginia Employment Commission representative from the Benefits Payment Center (BPC) told me that it is my job to inform the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) that the1099-G that they provided me with was incorrect and falls on me not them. I stated to her that she cannot be serious and that I need a job there because this place would be in tip-top shape. The Virginia Employment Commission issued me a 1099-G in 2021 for $51,150 and withheld federal taxes of $2373. I had to provide my attorney Flannery O’Rourke with all of my bank statements from different accounts to reflect and show that the original 1099-G provided to me by the Virginia Employment Commission during this time was indeed incorrect. So how did they come up with this figure to begin with I have no idea and I highly doubt that they do either. The amended 1099-G reflected and showed that they only paid me $36,360 and withheld federal taxes of $2373 reflecting a balance and difference of $14,782 which is the money that they recouped from me once I won my appeal. I do not know what writing this letter is going change or do at this point because in my mind the damage has already been done to me and is irreversible. However, with that being said I pray that you all make changes and waves effectively and immediately. What is the point of being in a position of power if you are not going to enact and enforce change? Seems pretty pointless, senseless, and useless to me and that’s putting it mildly. They say chivalry is dead and there is no such thing as a free lunch and this to me is an understatement so I guess the same thing can be said about free labor and free will as well.

Last Name: Metzger Locality: Gatesville, NC

Dear Members of the UI Subcommittee: I was a public benefits worker in VA for 9 years and left only about 4 months ago. In that time I ran many reports, talked to hundreds of people navigating their claims, encouraged patience and even my own household has suffered the archaic system that the Virginia unemployment system uses. It did not start with COVID, but that made it exceptionally clear there was a much bigger problem. Tens of thousands of past and present unemployed workers are STILL waiting too long for benefits, hearings, and answers. We are your constituents, your neighbors, and your fellow Virginians. The inadequacies of Virginia’s unemployment system are even harming us years AFTER we find new employment. With unemployment levels long since at pre-pandemic levels, and more than three years after the pandemic started, it is long past time for Virginia to do better. I ask that you use your power to push Virginia to do better: Make sure that the VEC processes claims quickly, and has hearings quickly Make sure that VEC fraud processes don’t freeze out real people who’ve faced unemployment Make sure that the VEC’s new computer systems actually work for claimants Ask Virginia’s budget negotiators to spend state money—not just to maintain VEC staffing, but to increase it significantly, so that it has enough capacity to help Virginians Make sure that the VEC has a plan to resolve pandemic-era claims as soon as possible, and a plan going forward to make sure that it can handle economic crises in the future I thank you for your work on this critical issue. Your fellow Virginians, and the Commonwealth’s economy, are counting on you.

Last Name: Wegbreit Organization: Central Virginia Legal Aid Society Locality: Henrico County

I am Martin Wegbreit, Director of Litigation at Central VA Legal Aid Society, Richmond. Since the pandemic started, I have handled 574 unemployment compensation cases. Most problems I have seen I never saw in 40 prior years in legal aid in VA. Changes made by the VEC to handle vast numbers of claims & appeals over the past 3 years have made things worse rather than better. Major problems still exist. 1. Too much compartmentalization for Customer Contact Center staff to assist. Staff are not well trained, do not always have access to information & do not always understand what is on their computer screen. 2. Written documents are not written in plain English, have too much white space, too small a font & have inaccurate information; for example, notices say an appeal can be filed on-line, but only if the claimant creates an account & can use the Claimant Self-Service System (CSSS). 3. Every VEC Unemployment Compensation office or VEC Workforce Office must be staffed with an Unemployment Compensation Specialist who can resolve issues right then & there with no delay. 4. Fraud detection for the CSSS is the worst of both worlds, so low it does not keep out fraudsters & so high it keeps out legitimate claimants. The CSSS should allow 95+ percent of claimants to successfully create an account, create a username & password, & log in. 5. If the VEC emails a claimant that a document has been uploaded to the CSSS, the email also should say the uploaded document will be mailed. 6. All documents uploaded to the CCSS, whether by the VEC or by the claimant, should be viewable & available to the claimant. 7. First Level Appeals should be handled in the order in which they are received, which is not being done. This means sending the Notice of Appeal, scheduling the hearing & issuing the decision. 8. The Notice of Appeal acknowledging receipt of the appeal should state the date of the decision being appealed & the nature of the decision being appealed. 9. Due to current slowness of the mail, the appeals packet should be mailed a minimum of 20 days before a scheduled hearing. 10. When a party has a representative, the VEC should not use block scheduling for that hearing. 11. Additional phone lines & staff are urgently needed at First Level Appeals, so 95+ percent of calls get answered immediately or within a short (no more than 10 minute) waiting period. 12. A Decision of Deputy declaring an overpayment should list in one decision all outstanding overpayments in existence, rather than issuing multiple decisions. 13. A Decision of Deputy declaring an overpayment should state when benefits were denied & whether due to disqualification or ineligibility. 14. When a Fact-Finding Statement is sent to request waiver, it should cover all outstanding overpayments in existence when the waiver request is made. 15. The Installment Agreement should clearly state that the VEC will not pursue other collection methods if the claimant complies with the agreement. 16. Payment decisions at all levels should be promptly implemented & paid in no more than one month. 17. In 2022, HB 270/SB 219 required the VEC to create an Ombudsman (Chief Customer Advocate) to be staffed with 14 other people. A year after the legislation took effect, 3 of 14 Customer Advocate positions remain unfilled. This is unacceptable. 18. Benefits due in 2020 & earlier can no longer be paid electronically & paid only by paper check. This should be changed.

Last Name: Scates Locality: Richmond

The entirety of the process relative to the VEC assertions in my claim was flawed and exacerbated by the spurious information and foundation relied upon by the VEC in making such assertions. The VEC failed, on multiple levels over a substantial period of time while leaving me in a state of dismay which I found to be extremely disquieting. Ultimately, the VEC did provide a waiver, yet how they got there is troublesome and the method would appear to show no fault of the VEC however the written documents explodes many flaws. Their attempt to disenfranchise over 17,000 appeals could potentially have had more repercussions and the motivation for such should be examined. While I cannot cover this matter in this forum, it may be helpful if I could discuss such. I appreciate your time and attention in this matter. It is important.

Last Name: Long Locality: Danville

I’ve been waiting since 2020 for my claim to be resolved I’ve received overpayment waiver papers in the mail for money I never received I worked the whole year of 2019 on up to the Covid shut down an was denied an never paid any back claims from the time I applied I was sent 3000 in 2022 an was told I had to pay that back when in a reality they owe me 13,000 I lost my house due to no unemployment I was pregnant an was evicted I’ve been struggling since then

Last Name: Naeem Locality: Sterling

I applied for Unemployment Insurance In April. It turned out that I owe VEC around $16,000 for unknown reasons. I was paid that amount during Pandemic. Despite trying to reach out to VEC and appeal that what I was paid was what I was eligible for, no one is reaching out. They approved me for unemployment this year but have been deducting my weekly amount for the overpayment. Please help!

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