Labor Department Says $10 Billion in Benefits Paid Out During Pandemic

 The state Department of Labor said Wednesday that it had paid out more than $10 billion in unemployment benefits since the Covid-19 epidemic began. It said that more than 2 million residents had received payments, and that the backlog of applications dating back to before April 22 had been reduced to 7,580.

The backlog included incomplete applications, duplicates and abandoned claims, it said, as well as another 20,801 claims before April 22 that are awaiting federally mandated certifications.

“No one could have predicted the wave of unemployment applications that crashed over the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and every state is struggling — but New York has moved faster than any other state to address our backlog and get money into New Yorkers’ hands. To date, we have paid out over $10 billion dollars during this crisis, compared to just $2.1 billion in total last year,” NYS Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “Those claims that have been outstanding for weeks are ones that we simply cannot process — we have already attempted to contact all of these New Yorkers, and we will continue to try get in touch with everyone who applied so we can connect them with the benefits they are eligible for.”

Another 15,831 applications are going through final processing — which includes a check for fraud and identity theft. These claims will either become payable in the coming days or be flagged for additional review by anti-fraud specialists.

The New York Times reported this week that the U.S. Secret Service is investigating what they believe is an international ring defrauding unemployment systems by filing false claims for benefits.

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