Federal law requires states to have a worker profiling program. 42 U.S.C. §§ 503(a)(10), (j). The purpose of this law is to identify and target claimants likely to exhaust their UI because they are permanently laid off and unlikely to return to the same industry or occupation.
The federal government provides grants to the states to address the individual reemployment needs of UI claimants through the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) program. The FY 2019 spending bill increased appropriations for the program, Dep’t of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Educations Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, Pub. L. 115-245, Division B, Title I, amending sections 303(j) and 306 of the Social Security Act. Additionally, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, PL 115-123 provided RESEA with permanent authorization under section 306 of the SSA and included new requirements to be phased in over several years. States have more flexibility in program design and targeting UI claimants for participation including the ability to require subsequent RESEA appointments (and at each appointment, work search activities are assessed). Even though training is not an allowable activity for program funding, states must report on the number of RESEA participants who begin training. UIPL No. 10-22 (1/21/22), available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=9998; Training and Employment Guidance Letter 05-21(1/21/22) available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?docn=3714. The four-year plans that states must submit are due on March 7, 2022. Id. For detailed information about how the MassHIRE Department of Career Services implements RESEA, available at https://www.mass.gov/doc/resea-policy-and-procedures-manual-1/download.
Massachusetts has expanded worker profiling to include all UI claimants. However, DUA's regulation on worker profiling does not authorize DUA subjecting all UI applicants to "worker profiling" 430 CMR 4.01(8). All UI claimants receive a notice informing them that they must attend a career services seminar to participate in RESEA at a MassHIRE Career Center, or in DUA offices in areas where there is no MassHIRE Center. (A list of the addresses and telephone numbers of existing MassHIRE Career Centers is provided in Appendix A.) The seminar is intended to assist claimants with job searches, and although claimants should also be informed at these sessions about training opportunities/extended benefits such as the TOP benefits under Section 30 (see Question 48 and Question 53), they are often not told of these opportunities, or they are not provided with adequate or timely assistance to seek approval for the training program and the extended training benefits that are available while one participates in training. Greater coordination between DUA and the MassHIRE Career Center is required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), 29 U.S.C. §3101 et seq. (Pub. L. No. 113-128). For a full description of the services and allowable types of training available under WIOA, see TEGL No. 8-19 (1/2/20) available at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=5389. Note: The Guidance provides that individual training accounts are the only funding mechanism that requires that a training provider be on an eligible training provider list. Therefore, as in the selection of training providers under Section 30, if a training provider is not listed, this should not end the inquiry as to whether or not the training is approvable.
A claimant who fails to attend a career services seminar by the due date (the third paid week of the claim or if rescheduled for good cause, the fourth paid week) may have UI benefits suspended for a week. If a claimant has not attended a RESEA review or fails to comply with required activities by that date, the claimant is then indefinitely disqualified. The disqualification ends when the claimant has satisfied the RESEA requirements. AH c. 2, § 1F. Claimants should not have their UI benefits suspended if they had good cause for not attending. The circumstances that constitute “good cause” are set out in DUA regulations at 430 CMR 4.01(8)(b).
Note: Advocates should be vigilant that the good cause provisions are applied to claimants, because the UI Online system does not appear to accommodate claimants even where good cause clearly exists. DUA's policy provides that an LEP claimant has good cause for not attending a Career Seminar that is offered only in English. AH c. 2, §1G2. DUA is increasingly denying claimants UI benefits related to RESEA requirements. These denials occur even though the claimant had good cause, had received misinformation from the career center or had completed the RESEA requirements. Although these denials are reversed with advocate intervention, the increase in denials is troubling and indicative of systemic errors. Moreover, a public record request for denials occuring in 2018 showed that only 20% of denied claimants were reinstated.
The Board has repeatedly reversed denials of UI benefits on a finding of good cause (not considered by adjudicators or by the Hearings Department). Examples include reversals of
UI denials where: a claimant received an offer to start a full- time job within a couple of weeks of a scheduled RESEA review, the claimant had good cause for failure to attend RESEA, BR-0030 9537 40 (9/23/19)(Key); a claimant had good cause for failing to meet his initial RESEA deadlines because he was caring for sick relatives and completed the rescheduled initial and final RESEA reviews at a later date, BR-0028 4636 06 (6/19/19); a claimant had good cause for failing to complete RESEA review after gaining and losing a job within 10 days, as the email from a career center employee did not indicate the RESEA program would re-open when claimant began collecting UI again, BR 0025 1624 89 (9/24/2018); a claimant did not receive her first RESEA letter, did not receive a subsequent notice of disqualification for failing to attend the RESEA Review because she was not collecting UI at the time, showed sincere efforts to complete eligibility requirements, and was further delayed in attending the RESEA Review due to career center technical issues, BR0024 2365 09 (12/21/18); the failure to provide work logs was for weeks that the claimant had not requested UI benefits, BR-0023 7404 95 (5/30/18); the claimant’s inability to open the RESEA letter electronically where the claimant was found to have made additional “diligent but unsuccessful” efforts, BR-0023 4912 20 (4/30/18); the career center was closed due to inclement weather followed by career counsellor’s erroneous advice that it was “too late” when the claimant returned, BR-0024 0783 47 (4/27/18); the claimant was given the run-around after moving to Maryland including misinformation provided by both Massachusetts and Maryland staff, BR-0020 4435 04 (6/30/17); the claimant was unable to schedule an orientation coupled with career center’s representative’s inability to access the claimant’s account in Job Quest and failure to fix the technical problem or find a manual solution, BR-0018 9757 07 (12/29/16); the claimant relied on DUA’s statement that as a union member, claimant did not need to complete RESEA requirements, BR-0019 1437 36 (12/16/16); the record stated that claimant had failed to complete RESEA requirements but where, on remand (as a result of Board’s suspicion that good cause probably existed), the problem was “human error” in not entering this information, BR-0019 3708 99 (12/9/16); the claimant who started RESEA in Massachusetts and completed it in California that had different requirements, BR0018 9754 68 (11/30/16); the claimant was advised by a career counsellor that he was not required to attend a subsequent review meeting and therefore the claimant ignored a reminder notice, BR-0018 2403 84 (9/30/16); the claimant notified to enroll in RESEA after he had already started working at a new job and was not collecting UI benefits, attended a REA orientation after reopening his claim but received no further notices, BR-0014 2904 43 (4/19/16).
In addition to failing to apply “good cause” principles as shown in the Board's decisions cited above, the decisions of both adjudicators and review examiners reversed by the Board demonstrate ignorance of the law. For example, in one case the review examiner erroneously concluded that there “are no exceptions for profiled claimants who fail to meet the [RESEA] requirements by the deadline date.” BR-0019 5198 91 (1/23/17) (Board finding good cause where the claimant could not attend RESEA review due to a sick child). In another case, the claimant was disqualified from UI benefits during a period that she had been approved to participate in training. BR-0015 7819 25 (11/5/15) (Key). Finally, the Board has reversed a denial of benefits during the week in which a claimant completed the RESEA requirements. BR-0017 1880 42 (5/16/16).
Further information about worker profiling is available in Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Program Letters published in the Federal Register, 59 Fed. Reg. 11804 (March 14, 1994). 20 C.F.R., Part 662. Further information about the new requirements applied to RESEA is available in UIPL No. 07-19 (1/11/19). For advocacy handles, see the General Accounting Office Report, GAO-18-633 (Sept. 2018), Reemployment Servicers, DOL Could Better Support States in Targeting Unemployment Insurance Claimants for Services.
For advocacy on behalf of claimants with limited English proficiency, see Question 52.