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Davis Announces Hearing on Moving from Unemployment Checks to Paychecks: Implementing Recent Reforms
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing reviewing the implementation of the reforms to the unemployment insurance system contained in Public Law 112-96, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, in 1100 Longworth House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 A.M.
In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. Witnesses will include a representative of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) as well as other public and private sector experts on unemployment benefits and policies designed to promote reemployment. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
In March 2012 (the most recent official data), the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, with 12.7 million individuals unemployed, of whom 5.3 million were long-term unemployed – defined as unemployed for 27 weeks of longer. As of the week ending March 24, 2012, approximately 6.8 million individuals were collecting State or Federal unemployment benefits.
The Federal-State unemployment insurance (UI) program created by the Social Security Act of 1935, assists unemployed individuals by offering weekly unemployment benefit checks while they search for work. According to DOL, in order to be eligible for benefits, jobless workers must have a history of attachment to the workforce and must be able and available for work.
As a result of a series of laws enacted since 2008 to provide additional Federal extended benefits, the maximum number of weeks of total unemployment benefits payable per person grew to a record 99 weeks, including up to 73 weeks of Federally-funded benefits. Since mid-2008, over $200 billion in Federal extended unemployment benefits have been authorized, with most supported by general revenues.
As the number of weeks of unemployment benefits and total spending have grown, so have total payments made in error. According to DOL, improper payments of unemployment benefits reached record highs in 2011, with $13.7 billion paid in error or 12 percent of all payments.
On February 22, 2012, the President signed P.L. 112-96, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which extended and reformed Federally-funded unemployment benefits under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program for the remainder of 2012. The reforms to the permanent program include creating job search requirements for Federal benefits, permitting States to have flexibility to promote pro-work reforms, allowing screening and testing of certain UI applicants for illegal drugs, requiring reemployment eligibility assessments for the long-term unemployed, and requiring States to recover prior overpayments of UI benefits. Prior to their enactment, these reforms were the topic of a previous Human Resources Subcommittee hearing on moving from unemployment checks to paychecks in October 2011.
Also under the law, the unemployment rate thresholds and weeks of benefits available in various “tiers” of EUC will change in the coming months, resulting in fewer weeks of Federal benefits being paid, with those weeks increasingly focused on States with the highest unemployment rates. As a result, starting in September 2012, the maximum number of weeks of eligibility for UI benefits will have fallen from 99 weeks to 73 weeks, but only in States with unemployment rates above 9 percent.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Davis said, “Members from both Chambers of Congress and both sides of the aisle came together to agree on new policies designed to help unemployed Americans return to work. This hearing will examine how these new reforms are being implemented by DOL and the States. This will help us judge what next steps may be needed to improve the overall integrity of the program so that we are better able to move more individuals from benefit checks to paychecks.”
The hearing will focus on the implementation of reforms to unemployment benefits enacted in P.L. 112-96, The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Wednesday, May 9, 2012. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.