|16 VAC 5-70 Amendments for Modernization
|Ended on 1/4/2023
These comments are submitted on behalf of Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CVLAS) which provides free civil legal aid to low-income people in Richmond, Petersburg, Charlottesville, and the surrounding cities and counties. I am currently the CVLAS Director of Litigation located in Richmond, Virginia. I have been a legal aid attorney since I graduated law school in 1978, and have been practicing in Virginia since 1980, first in Southwest Virginia and in Central Virginia since 2005.
My comments are based upon my experience over the past 41 years as an attorney representing claimants for unemployment compensation in Virginia. In the course of that time, I have represented thousands of clients in connection with claims for unemployment compensation in Virginia. Since May 2022, I have participated in quarterly meetings between top officials at the VEC and legal aid attorneys throughout Virginia who handle unemployment compensation. Based on those experiences, I have these comments:
(1) Proposed 16 VAC 5-60-10(A), 16 VAC 5-60-10(C), and 16 VAC 5-70-10(E), all provide that initial, continued, and/or weekly claims may be filed by telephone, Internet, or by other means at the discretion of the commission. This change should not be implemented until the Claimant Self-Service System (CSSS) has been configured so all but a tiny minority (less than 1%) of claimants have unfettered access to it. In our quarterly meetings with the VEC, legal aid has been informed that the “fraud detection” for the CSSS has been set at a level high enough to keep out fraudsters. Unfortunately, it also keeps out too many legitimate claimants. At these quarterly meetings, top VEC officials have stated that initially only 20% of claimants could access the CSSS, which slowly increased to 67% as of their last report in September 2022. This is unacceptably low. The CSSS should allow 99+ percent of claimants to successfully create an account, create a username & password, and log in. Unless and until this occurs, filing claims by telephone and other methods should be maintained.