WSR 97-22-109

PROPOSED RULES

EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DEPARTMENT

[Filed November 5, 1997, 11:36 a.m.]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 95-07-075.

Expedited Adoption--Proposed rule making notice was filed as WSR 97-19-087.

Title of Rule: WAC 192-12-141 Applying for unemployment benefits and 192-23-018 Failure to report in person to reopen a claim for benefits after a break in claim series.

Purpose: To allow new and reopened claims for unemployment benefits to be filed by mail.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 50.12.010, 50.12.040, 50.20.010.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 50.20.140.

Summary: The proposed changes will allow individuals in rural areas of the state, and in other areas designated by the commissioner, to file their claims for unemployment benefits by mail, rather than visiting the office in person.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: The proposed rule changes were tested on a pilot basis in Pierce County for two years. The finding of the Mail-In Application Pilot Study Group was that the use of alternative methods of application provided better customer service without compromising the primary objectives of the unemployment insurance program.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Juanita Myers, 212 Maple Park, Olympia, (360) 902-9665; Implementation and Enforcement: Dale Ziegler, 212 Maple Park, Olympia, (360) 902-9303.

Name of Proponent: Employment Security Department, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: The proposed changes will allow individuals in rural areas of the state, and in other areas designated by the commissioner, to file their new and reopened claims for unemployment benefits by mail, rather than in person. Based upon the pilot study performed in Pierce County, the effect of the proposed change is to improve customer service by eliminating long lines at the Job Service Center, while maintaining federal performance and timeliness standards.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: WAC 192-12-141 currently requires individuals to file their initial claims for unemployment benefits in person. The proposed change will allow individuals in designated areas to file their applications by mail.

WAC 192-23-018 provides penalties for individuals who fail to report in person to reopen an existing claim. The proposed change will allow individuals to reopen their claim by any method as directed by the department.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The proposed changes pertain only to the method by which individuals will file their claims for unemployment benefits, and do not impact eligibility requirements. The changes were subjected to a lengthy pilot study in Pierce County. The data indicated filing claims by mail had no impact on the number of people applying for benefits, and no discernible impact on the duration of the average unemployment claim. Based upon the information obtained through the pilot study, a small business economic impact statement is not required by RCW 19.85.030.

RCW 34.05.328 does not apply to this rule adoption. The proposed rules do not constitute "significant legislative" rules within the meaning of RCW 34.05.328 because they do not (a) subject a violator of the rule to a penalty or sanction; (b) establish, alter or revoke any qualification or standard for a license or permit; or (c) adopt a new or significantly amended policy or regulatory program. The proposed rules best fit within the definition of "procedural rules" described in that statute.

Hearing Location: Employment Security Department, 106 Maple Park, Room 1, Olympia, WA 98504, on December 10, 1997, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Karen LaFreniere, Affirmative Action by December 8, 1997, TDD (360) 902-9589, or (360) 902-9582.

Submit Written Comments to: John Nemes, Rules Coordinator, Employment Security Department, P.O. Box 9046, Olympia, WA 98504-9046, FAX (360) 438-3226, by December 9, 1997.

Date of Intended Adoption: December 19, 1997.

November 4, 1997

Cindy Zehnder

Deputy Commissioner

AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 95-18-107, filed 9/6/95, effective 10/7/95)

WAC 192-12-141 Applying for unemployment benefits. (1) If you apply for Washington state benefits in another state, follow the instructions in WAC 192-12-130. If you apply for benefits in Washington state, follow the instructions below.

(2) How do I apply for benefits? (a) In most areas of the state, you must file your application for benefits in person at a Washington state employment security office.

(b) In designated rural areas, or in other locations approved by the commissioner, you may file your application for benefits by mail.

(c) Other methods of filing applications for benefits can be authorized by the department as needed.

You may apply at any time, even if you are working. If you file your application in person, your claim is effective the ((first)) week in which you report to the employment security office. If you file your application by mail, your claim is considered filed on the postmarked date.

(3) Do I have to register for work? You must register for work unless you are partially unemployed or on standby. (See WAC 192-12-150.)

(4) Will I receive benefits immediately? The first week you are eligible for benefits is your waiting week. You will not be paid for this week.

(5) Do I continue to file a claim for benefits? You must file a claim as instructed for all weeks for which you want to be paid. Every week begins on Sunday and ends at midnight on Saturday. Your claim must be filed after the end of the week(s) you are claiming.

(a) What information do I report on my claim form? The claim form must contain:

(i) The Saturday date(s) of the week(s) you are claiming;

(ii) Answers to all the questions (your claim will be considered legal if at least one question is answered);

(iii) Your signature or, if filing by telephone, your personal identification number;

(iv) The amount and source of any pension you are receiving for the week claimed;

(v) Any holiday earnings received during the week claimed;

(vi) Any vacation pay received during the week claimed, and the dates for which such pay was accrued; and

(vii) Any earnings and the number of hours you worked during the week claimed, unless you are not eligible for benefits because you are fully employed.

A claim that does not meet these requirements is incomplete and will be returned to you with a request for additional information.

(b) How do I file my claim? When you apply, you will be told to file your claim in person, by mail, or by telephone. If you file by mail, the claim is considered filed on the postmarked date.

(c) How often must I file my claim? When you apply, you will be told to file weekly or biweekly.

(i) If you file weekly, you will claim the week which ended the preceding Saturday.

(ii) If you file biweekly, you will claim the two weeks which ended on the preceding Saturday.

(iii) Other filing schedules can be authorized for the purpose of study, in cases of emergency, or where unusual circumstances make weekly or biweekly filing difficult.

(6) Are there other times when I am required to report in person? You may be instructed to report in person for any reason. If you do not report, you will not receive benefits for that week, except:

(a) If you return to work and cannot report in person as instructed, you can file your claim by mail;

(b) If you have been instructed to file in person on a Friday (or the last business day of a week), you can file your claim on the next business day; or

(c) When you can show you had good cause for not reporting in person. "Good cause" includes factors which would cause another person in similar circumstances to be unable to report as directed.

(7) When is my claim considered late? (a) Until you receive your first payment, your claim is considered late if it is filed more than seven days (one week) after the Saturday of the last week being claimed. You will not be paid for these weeks unless you can prove you had a good reason for filing late.

(b) After you have received your first payment, your claim is considered late if it is filed more than 28 days (four weeks) after the Saturday of the last week being claimed. Any week or weeks that are filed late will be conditionally paid. This means you will be paid benefits, but you will be asked to prove you had a good reason for filing late. If you cannot do so, you will receive a notice directing you to repay benefits for the week(s) you filed late.

(8) How do I reopen my claim? If you have stopped filing claims for one or more weeks, you must ((report in person to)) reopen your claim by reporting as directed to your local employment security office. ((Other methods for reopening claims can be authorized by the department as needed.))

[Statutory Authority: RCW 50.12.010, [50.12.]040, 50.20.010, [50.20.]140 and 50.12.050. 95-18-107, 192-12-141, filed 9/6/95, effective 10/7/95. Statutory Authority: RCW 50.12.010 and 50.12.040. 93-10-025, 192-12-141, filed 4/28/93, effective 5/29/93; 87-12-021 (Order 2-87), 192-12-141, filed 5/28/87, effective 8/30/87; Order 2-75, 192-12-141, filed 2/10/75.]

Reviser's note: RCW 34.05.395 requires the use of underlining and deletion marks to indicate amendments to existing rules. The rule published above varies from its predecessor in certain respects not indicated by the use of these markings.

AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 87-12-021, filed 5/28/87, effective 8/30/87)

WAC 192-23-018 Failure to report ((in person)) as directed to reopen a claim for benefits after a break in claim series. (1) ((If,)) After a break in weeks claimed, your claim for benefits will be denied under RCW 50.20.010(1) if you fail:

(a) To report as directed ((a claimant submits a claim for benefits without reporting in person to reopen his or her claim)) during the first week for which ((the claimant wishes)) you wish to be eligible for benefits, and ((fails))

(b) To respond to a request to report ((in person)) as directed to reopen ((his or her)) your claim, or ((fails))

(c) To establish good cause for failure to report ((in person)) as directed to reopen ((his or her)) your claim((, the claimant will be subject to denial pursuant to RCW 50.20.010(1))).

(2) The denial of benefits ((authorized by this section is indefinite in nature, and)) will remain in effect until ((the individual)) you report((s in person)) as directed to reopen ((his or her)) your claim.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 50.12.010 and 50.12.040. 87-12-021 (Order 2-87), 192-23-018, filed 5/28/87, effective 8/30/87.]

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