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DETR answers KOLO 8 viewer questions

DETR's new director Heather Korbulic speaks with KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond about the reasons many Nevadans are waiting longer than expected to receive unemployment insurance.
DETR's new director Heather Korbulic speaks with KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond about the reasons many Nevadans are waiting longer than expected to receive unemployment insurance.(KOLO)
Published: May. 7, 2020 at 12:25 PM PDT
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KOLO 8 Evening anchor Noah Bond asked viewers and readers to submit questions about unemployment insurance applications. He tightened the questions and condensed them to 20. The questions and answers from the Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation's new director Heather Korbulic are below.

1) What is the best action someone can take who has applied online and then called hundreds of times without getting through (from Lisa Scott, Kayla Williams, Cindy Sandau, Sean Neary, Jessica, Ray Wilson, Christi Means, Marilou Sikes)?

Please consider the reason for the call. If a filer has applied for benefits and been denied due to insufficient W-2 wages (would have received a determination indicating they are not monetarily eligible), we ask that they wait for updated information for potential Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) eligibility. If they believe that this wage eligibility is in error, they may file a wage protest and/or appeal. Instructions for how to file an appeal would have been sent on the determination decision. Filers are asked to follow these instructions to ensure requested information for these processes is received and connect correctly to their claim. If filers are receiving UI benefits at this time, but are awaiting additional benefits for prior weeks of UI benefits, we ask that they not call in, but monitor their online account on UInv for updated information. If filers have already submitted documents to resolve an issue on their claim, we ask that they monitor the status of their claim online. It may take several weeks due to the current volumes for items to update in the system. If none of these options resolves their issues they will then need to call into the Call Center.

2) I applied for regular unemployment weeks ago and was ineligible. I am an uber driver in Las Vegas for 2-3 years now. Since I already had an application for regular unemployment (been filing my weekly claim though), will I be able to apply to PUA in mid-May or will I have a problem when I apply since my UI claim is ineligible (from Joanne Cruz)?

The document received indicating they are ineligible for standard UI benefits can be use as one piece of supporting documentation for applying for PUA benefits once that module is live for taking claims. We encourage workers that are ineligible due to wages not from W-2 employer gather their 2019 taxed wage information for their 1099 or self-employed salary. They will need their net income information. Preparations done for filing federal or state tax returns may have most of what is needed to file. DETR will be providing out additional details. Additionally, filers must demonstrate that they could not work for COVID-19 effect reasons listed in the CARES Act, attachment to the labor force, and will file for PUA benefits in the State that the work occurred in. If they are a driver in Las Vegas they apply in Nevada, if they are a contract project manager performing work for a tech firm in California, they will file in California for PUA benefits.

3) I initially filed my claim 3/23/2020 and there is a minor issue that is pending approval for review. My claim has been sitting in this pending state for over 4 weeks now. What are they doing on the weekends when there are no calls coming in (from Ernest P Vierra)?

We have staff working extended hours that includes weekend hours. We apologize for the delays, but our offices have received an unprecedented number of claims for benefits and staff are working claims on a first in first out basis. We continue to add staff to address the volumes.

4) Will I become ineligible to receive unemployment benefits if and when I've returned to work on the 15th and the DETR website isn't up and running until after that time (from Anna Z-James)?

Filers will receive benefits that they are eligible for even if they file after returning to work for weeks prior that they were not working. We encourage filers not to wait to file until after returning to work.

5) Why hasn't the PUA system been a priority to get set up and why is it taking so long to get a vendor and get it set up (from Jess Williams, Laura, Jeffrey Sharrits, Sally Armstrong)?

PUA along with all the components of the CARES Act has been and remains a top priority of the Division since passage on 3/27/20. Nevada has never implemented an online mechanism for filing for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, which PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) is fashioned after. The required steps to operationalize a new program with a new technical decision are both complicated and considerable in order to execute. We are well into the process with a vendor to standup the module and to start taking claims mid-month. DETR will be putting out communication with details very soon.

6) When will PEUC benefits be available (from Tori Stidham)?

DETR staff are actively working on the technical solutions required to pay the extended benefits under PEUC. We expect this soon. DETR will be putting out communication with details on this very soon.

7) Why can't we get the FPUC Federal Pandemic Unemployment compensation 600. Why can't they get the $600 a week to us now and figure out the rest later (C.J. Domizi Rohan, Alana Wise)?

UI law and regulations along with state statute and regulation require the Agency to follow a prescribe process for determining eligibility of UI benefits. Although all the states have been afforded flexibilities by the Federal Department of Labor, suspension of conformance with law and regulation is not possible without Congressional or Legislative actions to change the law. DETR remains leveraging all flexibilities afforded it by the pandemic acts and from DOL. If other opportunities arise for DETR to leverage additional flexibilities we will pursue these.

8) I file online March 18th, but received two more checks after this date and as a result have been flagged and can no longer move forward in this process. What is the best course of action for me to take (from Angie)?

If you received funding initially and then stopped an issue was created on your claim that needs resolution. Your claim may be pending in the adjudication process as a result. Please reference your online account for updates and any correspondence you may have received from our Department regarding next steps.

9) Is there a way to change my married name without trying to call 500 times every day and taking up a call space for someone who needs the money right now. I was married in 2018 (Amanda Rich)?

If you are receiving your benefits currently we ask that you not call and wait for a later date to call in to take action on changing your name. If you are not being paid as a result of a mismatch for your name, please gather proof of name change documents (similar for what you use for DMV to change your name) and fax or mail in copies of the proof to the listed address on the correspondence from our agency. We request that you do not try to email in documents unless expressly instructed to do some by a DETR UI agent, attempting to email in documents may delay further action on your claim. Please monitor your account online for updates from our office.

10) I am self-employed and as a taxpayer feel I should be eligible to receive benefits as I no longer had employment due to this pandemic. However, I have a rather unique problem. I have an Alien Registration number which has no expiry date. It was issued in 1987 & I have a document that states Green Cards issued between 1979 thru 1988 are not required to be renewed. One of the requirements necessary to qualify for Unemployment Benefits is an Alien Registration Card & an EXPIRY date (Sandra McClelland).

Please contact the Department of Homeland Security or the Nevada Office of New Americans for assistance. DETR uses both SSA and Homeland Security information to verify identity for our immigrant populations in accordance with DOL regulation. You may have to provide additional documentation to our office to prove your identity for eligibility. Since you mention that you are self-employed, you would likely be filing for PUA once our site is up, unless you have sufficient W-2 wages in Nevada to file for UI benefits.

11) Since wedding gatherings (ie; receptions) will likely either be in Phase 2 or 3... how long (ie; weeks/months) will benefits be extended (Larry Williams, the President of the Northern Nevada Bridal Association who represents more than 180 small businesses)?

CARES Act extended weeks of benefits are authorized through December 2020.

Also, since most independent contractors (and small business sole proprietors) don't get a weekly paycheck, what sort of documentation will you ask them to provide to establish their income? Will tax records from 2018 to 2019 be satisfactory (Larry Williams, the President of the Northern Nevada Bridal Association who represents more than 180 small businesses)?

Please reference answer from #2.

12) I'm a 1099 worker and applied online for unemployment when I read about the Federal relief of $600/week. I received a nevadadebitcard in the mail from DETR, which I activated immediately, There was zero dollars on the card. My rep agency received a form to report my earnings however the form doesn’t have any options to report 1099 earnings. On 4/24 I received a Notice of Monetary Determination from DETR stating I had zero earnings. On 4/27 I faxed an appeal to that determination with copies of my 1099’s from 2019. What is the next best course of action for me to take (Lee Baldock)?

You are not eligible for standard state UI benefits. You will need to file for benefits through PUA once the module is up later this month.

13) When will DETR pay the additional $600 (Melissa)?

DETR started paying the additional FPUC - $600 the week of April 13th. All eligible weeks have been caught up to date for filers in pay status.

14) I'm a 1099 independent contractor. DETR sent me a Notice of Monetary Determination, showing zero income, and that I had until April 20th to appeal. Trying to fill out self employment information on the original claim online was tough, I do not think they had it up properly yet. I faxed a letter detailing my self employment, and I included the amount that I made last year, 2019, and asked what else they need from me. I have not heard anything at all. What is the best course of action for me to take (Shana Sawyer)?

Same as question #12

15) Why hasn't DETR upped the number of employees to handle claims to get residents paid? DETR has tripled its staff devoted to support of UI to date. What new measures are you putting in place to handle this overload (Roselle Dance)?

We continue to add staff to address the workload, along with further leveraging of the Alorica contracted call center.

16) What is the best way for me to resolve a pending resolution claim. I'm calling to talk with a DETR worker, but never get through (Kathleen Campbell)?

Please reference Answer #1

17) I was sent a letter with my approval and what I was going to be getting. I also received a debit card. Since then nothing. I went to the web site, the first time on 4/09/2020, to see that my claim says "Issues delaying payment", and it still says that as of today I have been trying to call since that date and have not been able to get through. What is the best course of action for me to take (Beverly Saunders)?

Please reference answer #1

18) Why are the rural areas not having any information when we call in to our local offices for help (Alana Wise)?

DETR rural office staff have been repurposed to assist with UI until the closure of State offices is lifted.

19) I have been trying to file unemployment but it continues to say that I am ineligible as we substitute teachers are considered the same as 1099ers or gig workers. What is the best course of action I can take to get help (Debora DeCalogero)?

Please reference answer #12

20) Will people who filed for unemployment and have since reported back to work be paid for the time the pandemic forced them out of a job (Candace Shorty)?

Yes, assuming that the weeks are found to be otherwise eligible for payment.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020

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