When we become aware of issues that call into question whether someone can receive benefits, we are legally required to look into it. While many issues can be resolved with quick follow up questions, many times it requires a more thorough review through an adjudication process. Some common issues that require adjudication:
- If somebody quits their job, determining if the circumstances disqualify them from getting benefits
- If somebody is fired, finding out if the circumstances disqualify them from getting benefits
- If somebody does not accept work that is offered to them, finding out if the circumstances disqualify them from getting benefits
- For people who work for educational institutions, every break between school years or terms, we must adjudicate whether they are likely to be doing the same type of work after the break as they did before to determine if they can receive benefits during the break
- If somebody is not available for work
The Department’s temporary rules, adopted early in the pandemic, have greatly reduced the number of issues that have to be adjudicated. Even with this, the huge number of people seeking benefits means we are facing a record number of issues needing to be adjudicated.
Unfortunately, this means that if we identify an issue today that needs to be adjudicated, it is likely to take 12 -14 weeks to complete the adjudication. We know this is not acceptable and here is what we are doing:
- We have already hired more adjudicators. Before the pandemic, we had about 80 adjudicators; we now have over 300.
- We have created new, focused and condensed training, reducing the normal training time from 15 weeks to 5– part of this is by having adjudicators specialize on particular issues so they can learn those completely and much more quickly start resolving issues.
- Adjudicators continue to work overtime, knowing how many people are depending on them.
- We changed how work is assigned so we can better ensure avoid inadvertent delays and to ensure people are resolving cases as quickly as possible.
- We are analyzing the data as we learn what issues are causing the most problems, and how we can more efficiently address them. We are also aggressively exploring whether we can make other process changes that may allow us to get benefits to people more quickly.