Division of Employment Security accelerates unemployment appeals

The state Division of Employment Security handled appeals on unemployment benefits decisions significantly faster in the second quarter.

The agency reported that 64.5 percent of initial appeals of decisions to approve or reject claims for unemployment benefits were issued by hearing officers within 30 days in the second quarter, up from 16.2 percent in the first quarter. And 86.2 percent of appeals decisions were handled within 45 days in the second quarter, compared to 29.8 percent in the first quarter.

The agency’s second-quarter performance exceeded the U.S. Department of Labor’s target of handling 60 percent of appeals within 30 days and 80 percent within 45 days.

“Last year at this time, less than 1 percent of our appeals cases were heard within 30 days and now it’s over 62 percent,” Dale Folwell, the head of Employment Security, said in a statement.

Agency spokesman Larry Parker said that the appeals process is benefiting from the improved quality of initial decisions on benefits.

“That means there are less appeals coming in,” Parker said. “It gave (the hearing officers) a chance to work through their backlog and that improves their timeliness.”

Decisions on unemployment benefits can be appealed by either a jobless worker or their former employer. Employer’s state unemployment taxes are impacted when their former employees collect unemployment benefits.