Las Vegas

Appeals backlog keeps some PUA claimants in limbo – Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-09-20 22:32:15 –

Las Vegas (KTNV) — Ladan Dillon speaks four languages ​​fluently: French, German, Persian and English.

Interpreting for others at conventions, meetings and courts is a way for her to earn a living and support her family.

“What I do helps people. We are the bridge that connects the world.”

But there’s one language she didn’t understand … the language spoken by DETR, Nevada’s employment, training, and rehabilitation department.

“At first, you’ll hear,’This is an unprecedented era. You didn’t have to deal with a pandemic.’ I understand it. I respect it. I respect it. Thank you, but now, a year and a half later, they haven’t acted together yet! “

When COVID-19 was a hit, self-employed gig workers, independent contractors, and 1099 consultants had no safety net against lost income due to financial turmoil.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was developed by Congress to fill that gap.

“Currently, we’re seeing about 160,000 people who have benefited from PUA, and from that perspective, I think it was a success,” said DETR Director Elisa Cafferata.

Radan applied in May 2020 when PUA was first available in Nevada.

“I received an approval from DETR, and about a week later, they sent me another approval with a higher weekly benefit.”

Everything seemed to work … until not.

“And they sent me a disqualification letter, and a few months later they sent me another letter of approval, and again as five months later they sent another disqualification letter.”

Misleading or inconsistent responses from DETR have become commonplace for some.

“There are a lot of employees here and most of their money comes from gig jobs,” Cafferata said.

Many of them work in the evenings and weekends for benefits and stability.

But even if the job isn’t exhausted or is only a small part of the actual income, federal regulations apply for regular unemployment insurance and are turned down before returning to PUA, what is called PUA /. Said that you need to create. UI whirlpool.

“Therefore, from that perspective, PUA didn’t really consider the reality of Nevada,” says Cafferata.

What is the reality of Radan Dillon?

“Everyone is looking back and forth at the ball and I’m playing a ping-pong match where I just sit here and wait and nothing happens.”

Her DETR account shows that she is eligible for a loss of income of $ 20,000 or more.

She has never seen a dime and the reasons for her refusal continue to change.

First, there was the issue of ID verification.

They then said, “My claim was submitted from outside the United States. The last time I checked, Henderson Nevada is still believed to be in the United States.”

There was even a potential fraud flag, and even claims that her unemployment had nothing to do with the pandemic.

“And I have no idea where they got this. There were no competitions in town. There were no meetings in town.”

For a long time, the courtroom was closed and her work has not yet fully returned.

“You feel drowning in the pool and reaching out for help. All these people around the pool put their hands on their chin and pretend to care for everyone. Looks sympathetic to, but no one cares. No one is reaching out. “

The DETR office isn’t open to the public yet, but Radan has done everything he can to get answers online and by phone.

“It’s necessary for Congressional statutes to pass. When you do, they’re totally useless, unprofessional, and rude, and they try to get you off the phone as soon as possible.”

13 When Investigates asked DETR about her case, the agency sent her an email with two phone numbers.

“When I make a call, there is a recording.” The call did not hang up. Please call again. “

After investigating the 13-questioned DETR, the agency admitted that the number given to Ladan had failed.

“The way DETR has dealt with UAs is just an abomination,” Dillon said.

Like many others, all she could do was appeal.

To date, she is still waiting for a hearing, and she has a companion.

As of September 7, DETR had 14,478 PUA appeals, waiting to be reviewed to see if they could be resolved or if they needed to go through a formal appeal process. ..

DETR says they are working on the appeal in the order they received, although they cannot know how far back they were.

I’ve only heard 5,688 cases so far.

Last month, the appeals court made 906 decisions.

“As of September 6, we have to use our state officials to make these decisions, which is a much smaller group of people,” explained Cafferata.

Before the end of PUA, DETR had external support.

“The biggest support we lost was that there were 200 people from welfare who were working overtime to help process their claims.”

Now, it will take about five and a half months to get through the backlog of the appeal.

Aside from the shortage of staff, Cafferata accuses fraud.

“We had more than a million applications that were fraudulent or fraudulent, but we need to look into them to determine if they are legal, so we need to deal with all of them. There was. That’s my frustration. If we didn’t have those million claims, we would have been up to date. “

DETR didn’t tell me how much was paid to the scammers, saying “data isn’t available and changes frequently.”

They also couldn’t say how much of that money was recovered.

When Nevada asked why they didn’t have enough security measures to prevent the level of fraud our state experienced, DETR said that the PUA program’s hasty setup and self-certification design “many People have opened the door to an unprecedented number of fraudsters’ claims, “said the state, unable to prevent, verify, or efficiently audit. “

Radan Dillon has three English words to describe her experience: “disillusionment, frustration, anger”, she wants help that may never come.

A little comforting to those waiting, DETR confirms that even if the benefit program has expired, successful complainants will be paid in all applicable weeks.

Looking at some of DETR’s successes and the new lifelines available to help people get back to work, our research doesn’t end here.

The story was on Tuesday night at 13 Action News at 6 pm on September 21st.

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