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Nearly half of jobless claims deemed valid as Department of Labor processes record numbers
Georgia Department of Labor
The Georgia Department of Labor offers state residents the opportunity to apply for unemployment benefits when in need. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Swimming in jobless claims from the past month, the Georgia Department of Labor has deemed about half of them valid while still sorting through the rest.

The department said Thursday, April 30, that about 725,000 of Georgia’s 1.37 million initial jobless claims processed since mid-March — or about half — have been deemed “valid with enough earned wages.”

Officials say reasons vary for why the remaining 644,000 claims have been considered invalid, including that applicants could potentially be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which includes the self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of nonprofits, or those with limited work history who do not otherwise qualify for state unemployment benefits. 

Also, “many are still in the claims process awaiting eligibility determination,” according to the labor department.

This includes cases where duplicate claims have been filed, identification has been requested, excessive weekly earnings have been reported, or child support stops have been issued.  “These claims require additional handling and the GDOL is working diligently to address many of these stops,” according to a labor department press release.

“Unemployment is not a one-sided application,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler told reporters in a Thursday briefing. “We have data that’s coming in from the employer and the individual. One of the things we have to be careful about is making sure we are paying the proper person the proper way.”

Also, the labor department has reported that 444,195 Georgians have received their first payment, or about 62% of the valid claims.

“Our employees are managing unprecedented numbers of claims and are getting people paid,” Butler said. “To say that we have issued more payments in the past six weeks than in the past four years combined is quite an accomplishment.”

The department also is starting to see “organized ways of trying to commit fraud in the system,” Butler said.

He cited one case that involved 95 claims filed for one bank account.

“A lot of these stops that cause people’s claims to be slowed down … are part of (safeguards) that have been put in over the years to stop people from either gaming the system or committing fraud,” Butler said.

 See the original story from the Gainesville Times here.