Almost two months after floods hit Vermont, Governor Phil Scott expressed frustration over the delay in issuing checks to business owners and independent contractors who have applied for disaster unemployment assistance. Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, Scott acknowledged that those who work for themselves have been unable to earn any income. He compared the difficulties in getting aid out to the Department of Labor’s struggle with pandemic unemployment assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Last week, it was reported that over 100 people who applied for the program had not received payments.
Commissioner of Labor Michael Harrington attributed the delay to the complexity of federal unemployment programs, stating that Vermont does not deal with major disasters regularly and had to build a system from scratch after the floods. The department applied for disaster unemployment assistance on July 20 and received approval on August 4, but actual funding did not arrive for some time after that. Employees of the Department of Labor recently began contacting applicants to process their claims, with payment files expected to be submitted for processing by Friday.
Harrington noted that some applications are on hold because claimants have not filed their tax information to prove their income from their business. Disaster unemployment assistance is available to Vermonters whose employment was affected by the disaster but who are not eligible for regular unemployment assistance. The Department of Labor has received 1,467 applications for regular unemployment assistance related to the floods, along with 125 applications for disaster unemployment assistance. However, only 48 of those have been found to be eligible, with 28 deemed ineligible and requiring additional documentation.
For questions regarding regular or disaster unemployment assistance, individuals can call 877-214-3332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.