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Nevada agency focusing on efforts to fix jobless claim issues

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation issued a recorded video Friday afternoon after technical difficulties prevented the office from hosting a live version of its weekly press conference.

The weekly media briefings started last month in an effort to provide regular updates and be more transparent with jobless Nevadans.

DETR Director Heather Korbulic acknowledged many claimants under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have outstanding issues holding up the successful filing of their claims, including wage discrepancies, general eligibility issues and fraud. The PUA program allows independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers to be eligible for unemployment benefits under the $2 trillion stimulus bill.

“The DETR team this week spent the entire time working to eliminate the issues preventing payment and releasing payments accordingly,” she said during the briefing. “We still have many that need addressing.”

More than 160,000 claim issues were shaved to below 61,000 this week, according to Korbulic. DETR is continuing to resolve claims, and payments for those are expected to be released Tuesday.

Calling in

DETR opened the phone line for its PUA adjudication call center Monday. That line allows gig workers to receive help correcting issues with their unemployment insurance claims.

However, claimants reported difficulty getting through to a representative. Las Vegan Patrick McLean, for instance, dialed in at 8 a.m. only to hear an immediate busy signal.

Korbulic said the PUA adjudication center received about 140,000 calls on Monday, forcing Alorica, which runs the call center, to restart its servers causing “some disconnects.”

While there are plans to hire additional call center agents, Korbulic emphasized the adjudication phone line is for those who have been contacted directly by DETR to call the number.

“Calling that dedicated adjudication line when you’ve not been instructed to do so will not expedite your claim and prevents other claimants from reaching adjudication resolution and receiving their payment,” she said.

The department reported 96,091 PUA claims have been filed, as of 8 a.m. Friday, and more than $177 million has been paid representing 26,876 PUA claimants.

Talking points

The director made a specific callout to fraudsters, noting the department is tracking fraudulent claims and intends to prosecute those individuals accordingly.

Some unemployment offices across the country have reported an increase in fraudulent claims.

For example, one reported case involves a Nigerian fraud ring using personal information it has obtained to submit applications. The U.S. Secret Service issued a memo last month saying the fraud ring already targeted Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.

“It is extremely likely every state is vulnerable to this scheme and will be targeted if they have not been already,” according to the statement.

Fraudulent claims aside, DETR said it is finalizing its reopening phase and will “reopen when directed to do so.” Until then, claimants should continue to seek the department’s services online at UInv’s website for traditional filers or EmployNV for PUA eligible claimants.

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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