- Nevada’s employment department is to begin paying some unemployment benefits claims to independent and self-employed workers, Judge Barry Breslow ruled on Monday.
- The decision applies to employees who have not completely stopped working and those who received but stopped receiving payments.
- A follow-up hearing to determine whether DETR has made efforts to obey the order is set for July 30.
- This comes as state and DETR officials claim that the department is fighting widespread corruption in the benefits system.
On Monday, a Nevada judge ordered the employment department of the state to begin paying out some unemployment benefits claims for independent and self-employed workers.
Barry Breslow’s decision applies to employees who received and stopped receiving payments and those who have not completely stopped working. The judge will sign the order in the form of a writ of mandamus to allow the Pandemic Assistance Unemployment claimants to get their benefits from July 28.
Breslow said that the department shouldn’t stop payment except a PUA claimant has excessive earnings or no weekly filings, or the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation “has clear and convincing evidence of fraud.” The beneficiary should also get a chance to respond to the claims of the state for halting the payments.
The judge also ruled that DETR was wrong in deciding that PUA applicants were ineligible if they were still working but for reduced hours. Breslow corrected DETR for citing the Department of Labor recommendations in determining an employee must stop working completely to be PUA-eligible.
Nevada began accepting PUA claims on May 16. From that time until Friday, DETR got at least 325,000 new claims. Department statistics show that 87% of these had been filed weekly as of July 13. As of July 16, DETR has paid at least 114,000 PUA claims.
Breslow established a follow-up hearing on July 30 to determine whether DETR would have started addressing the following issues:
- A backlog of claimants who are not sure of their eligibility for PUA and conventional unemployment benefits.
- Prioritizing first-week filers.
- Why some PUA claimants applied for the benefits at the end of February and beginning of March before Nevada shut down places of work because of the pandemic.
The Nevada judge almost ordered the state to settle Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments in the form of $600 checks for workers who are eligible for either PUA or conventional benefits. However, he hoped the July 30 hearing would clarify benefits program eligibility, providing the best solution concerning federal aid.
State and DETR officials claimed that the department was fighting rife corruption in the benefits system and must piece together the legitimacy of every claim before paying the claimant.
Both the DETR spokeswoman and representative failed to respond to a request for comments.
However, after the hearing, the plaintiffs’ representative, Mark Thierman, said that he feels for the workers who have been waiting that long for payments. Thierman hopes that the end month ruling will come with good news for other workers who are still waiting, especially those who are uncertain about their eligibility for either PUA or conventional benefits.