Labor Needs To Improve Its Oversight of New Hampshire's Denials of Unemployment Insurance Benefits

HRD-82-10: Published: Nov 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the nonmonetary determinations and appeals processes of the the unemployment insurance program administered by the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security (DES) to determine whether: (1) eligible applicants were being denied unemployment benefits; and (2) complaints about the appeals process were valid. In addition, GAO made a limited review of the Department of Labor's quality appraisal program which was used for monitoring the administration of the program.

GAO found that DES has denied unemployment compensation benefits to many eligible claimants. In a statistical sample, about 17 percent of the denials were questionable or erroneous. Inadequate factfinding by local unemployment office personnel was the primary factor contributing to the problem. DES has instituted a training program which should improve the performance of local office personnel. However, additional guidance is still needed to help the local certifying officer arrive at decisions on such issues as what misconduct is and what constitutes an adequate search for work. Through its appeals process, DES has denied benefits to a substantial percentage of eligible claimants. The relatively high percentage of questionable decisions is due primarily to a tendency of DES personnel to disregard claimants' statements that would establish eligibility. In addition, the quality appraisal system Labor uses to monitor a state's appeals process does not give states sufficient information to help them improve performance. Based on its review of benefits denied by DES, GAO believes that Labor should assume a more active role in overseeing New Hampshire's processes for determining whether individuals are eligible for benefits. Although Labor has sponsored training for Appeal Tribunal members for several years, DES has not taken advantage of it. A system is needed to give new and less experienced certifying officers, local office interviewers, and Appeal Tribunal members information on why decisions are reversed in the appeals process and in the courts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should work with the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security to provide training to Appeal Tribunal members, either internally or through Labor training courses.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should work with the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security to establish a system for providing feedback to local office personnel on the reasons decisions are reversed by Appeal Tribunals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should work with the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security to establish a system for providing feedback to Appeal Tribunal members and local office personnel on rulings of the New Hampshire courts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Labor disagreed with this recommendation because it believes such information is already provided. GAO disagrees and plans to start a survey of the Unemployment Insurance Service quality appraisal system in September 1982. As part of that survey, GAO will reassess the merit of this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should revise the quality appraisal system for the appeals process to give states specific information on deficiencies and suggestions for correcting them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

 

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