In March 2020, before Americans faced widespread layoffs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 95% of people claiming unemployment benefits received their first payment within 14 days. The percentage hit a low of 45% in June 2020. While the recovery was difficult, the number fell to 70% in April 2021.
Yet this leaves many people who may be without an income longer than they can afford, often for reasons beyond their control that can take weeks or months to resolve. If you are wondering what is the cause of your late payment, here are the most likely possibilities.
Key points to remember
- Overwhelmed employees and obsolete IT systems are the cause of many delays in unemployment payments.
- Widespread unemployment fraud has further slowed operations in some states.
- Getting in touch with an unemployment service worker who can resolve your issue may take longer than you can afford.
Your state’s unemployment system is outdated
According to information from the Washington Post, the District of Columbia unemployment website was based on the programming language of the 1950s. It was also built in the early 2000s, before smartphones. This meant that anyone without access to a desktop or laptop computer had to file a claim over the phone. In addition, a single change in unemployment benefits linked to the pandemic took more than two weeks for computer programmers.
Your national unemployment service is overwhelmed
Again according to Washington Post information, 14 months after the start of the pandemic, states are still behind in processing claims. All the while, they were simply overwhelmed by the volume. Not only were many more people unemployed; people normally ineligible for benefits, such as the self-employed, have also become eligible, adding to the requirements of state systems.
Widespread fraud slowed operations
In states whose systems were better equipped to pay claims quickly, fraudsters took advantage and demanded benefits they had not earned. Once states discovered the fraud, they had to devote resources to investigating the fraud and trying to ensure that they only paid legitimate claims.
Your state changes payment provider
In Maryland, the Division of Unemployment Insurance has moved from Bank of America to Wells Fargo. Anyone whose benefits were deposited to a Bank of America debit card had to switch to paying by direct deposit or by check. Anyone who has not actively chosen a new payment method could be late in paying benefits.
Your claim check or debit card has been lost or stolen
Mail can be delivered incorrectly. And when someone receives poorly delivered mail, they don’t always do the right thing and track down its owner. Another problem is that many people have insecure mailboxes that won’t lock, and thieves sometimes steal their mail.
It can be difficult to know if your unemployment benefit has been lost or stolen, especially if you cannot contact someone in the unemployment service to verify when it was sent. In the future, consider using USPS Informed Delivery, a free service that you can sign up for on the Postal Service’s website. It can help you keep track of the mail you’re supposed to get each day and see if anything sent to you ever happened.
It can take a long time to get a replacement payment from your unemployment service. He may need to investigate and void checks or debit cards before issuing new ones.
You made a mistake in your complaint
If this is the first time you are filing, application forms have changed, or your state’s filing system has changed, it’s easy to make a mistake on your unemployment claim. Unfortunately, sometimes even the smallest thing, such as not checking a box, can prevent your application from being automatically approved. Instead, it will end up in a long queue of claims that require a human to review them.
Here are some of the mistakes people make when filing for unemployment.
You accidentally answered a question incorrectly
According to information from ABC News, in California, a confusingly worded question that many people answered incorrectly caused their unemployment benefits to sit “on hold” for weeks. The question asked people who recertified their eligibility for benefits if there was a reason other than illness or injury that they could not work.
A lot of people answered “yes”, because the pandemic was the reason they were out of work, but the system was set up under the assumption that people would answer “no” even though the pandemic was causing it. of their unemployment. Their applications were then classified as requiring an interview with a representative from the unemployment service, creating delays that could take weeks to resolve.
You forgot to submit your weekly claim
“What is time?” became a household saying as the pandemic dragged on. Without their usual activities and events, the days and weeks merged together. Even though life is getting closer to normal before the pandemic, it’s still easy to get busy and lose track of the things on your to-do list. It may be helpful to double-check to make sure you have filed a claim for each week of sick leave.
Your direct deposit information was incorrect
Signing up for direct deposit is often a faster and safer way to get your unemployment benefits. However, it is easy to go wrong when entering your routing or account number.
Try to log into your unemployment benefit account and verify that your information is correct. You could ask someone you trust to read the numbers you entered aloud as you look at one of your checks and make sure things match.
Your unemployment service always checks your bank account
Once you are sure that your direct deposit information is correct, you may still have to wait a few more weeks to start receiving your payments while your unemployment service checks your bank account. In Massachusetts, for example, this process takes nine business days. During this time, the ministry suspends your benefits and you are not paid.
You have filed a new complaint
The first time you file for unemployment, it can take weeks to pay off. In New York, it can take three to four weeks for a new application to be processed. In Missouri, it can take 22 days. And, as we’ve seen, there are many other things that can cause delays, even if you’re doing everything right when reporting.
The bottom line
With outdated computer systems, overwhelmed unemployment staff, frauds and confusing claims processes, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it particularly difficult to get your unemployment check, debit card or direct deposit on time. Add human error to the equation and the delays can get worse. These issues seem unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
The solution for the future is to have a strong emergency fund, as social safety nets do not always work as expected. For now, while you wait for your benefits, your best option may be to talk to your creditors, landlord, or mortgage agent about relief options while you try to contact a service employee. who can help you with your case.