Fairfield – State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) concerned about the growing chorus of residents suddenly unemployed by the economic upheaval of the Covid-19 pandemic and their frustration on lack of information and claim status wanted accountability and answers from the CT Department of Labor (CT DOL). Hwang joined the entire Senate Republican Caucus in a letter sent to CT DOL Commissioner Kurt Westby, making very specific requests for detailed information surrounding how the agency is handling the sharp surge in new unemployment claims.
“Unemployment applications have skyrocketed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic with the Governor’s orders to close all non-essential businesses. I hear every day from constituents who have been trying to get in touch with the CT DOL, are worried about the status of their claim and are depending on a response to be able to provide for themselves and their families,” said Senator Hwang.
CT DOL announced on April 15, 2020 that significant computer system upgrades have been made with the goal of speeding unemployment claims processing, the letter asked for an update this week on how those upgrades are working to help constituents obtain the financial assistance they desperately need and have been waiting on for many weeks.
“While the necessary tech upgrades are a positive step to improving this situation, that is not enough,” said Senator Hwang. “I have spoken with countless people who are not able to apply for benefits themselves because they are not able to access a computer or the internet. I have others with questions about their claims who need to talk to someone. What steps are the Department and the administration taking to make this process smoother and more responsive in Connecticut?”
The letter included the following asks:
- A summary of the 60,000 claim test performed on April 15, 2020.
- How many claims have been processed since the system upgrades were implemented,
- How many outstanding claims remain.
- Whether or not the CT DOL remains on track to begin distributing the additional weekly $600 benefit in federal stimulus funds by April 24th.
- Whether or not CT DOL remains on track to begin the new benefit program for self-employed individuals by April 30th.
- A timeline for processing claims over the phone.
- A timeline for being able to address case specific questions over the phone.
“We are all facing major changes to our daily lives as we adapt to a new reality during this unprecedented health crisis. It’s a challenging time fraught with fear and uncertainty. It’s imperative that Connecticut’s workers have access to information and personnel handling if, when and how their next paycheck may arrive. The public health concerns are eclipsed with financial concerns when your return to work is unknown. I offer my services if they are needed in making the necessary changes to get the unemployment system operational, said Senator Hwang. “Transparency, responsiveness and accountability are essential to the process. Working together is the only way to overcome this pandemic health and economic upheaval.”
State Senator Tony Hwang serves CT’s 28th District, which includes the towns of Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Westport, and Weston.
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