This past Monday Legal Director Eric Angel testified regarding the Unemployment Compensation Reform Act of 2009. This bill would help the District use available stimulus funds to get money into the hands of low-income District residents. In particular, the bill would increase the maximum weekly benefit by $20; expand eligibility for those who leave their jobs for compelling family reasons; extend the current 10-day appeal deadline to 15 days; and allow for the 15-day appeal period to be extended if the claimant shows excusable neglect or good cause.
The last two issues are particularly close to Legal Aid’s advocacy efforts. Legal Aid’s Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project has litigated a whole series of cases before the DC Court of Appeals which have resulted in litigants getting a chance to have their unemployment cases heard on the merits before the Office of Administrative Hearings. Having a statutory fix could help hundreds of low income residents obtain the safety net benefits they deserve. For more information on these appellate cases, see “Office of Administrative Hearings Procedures” on Legal Aid’s website.