Kalena Thomhave writes for The American Prospect:
It’s not just inadequate benefit amounts and antiquated rules that workers have to deal with, but also poor communication by the state departments themselves. Combine a systemic overload with confusing directions that are often completely inaccessible for people who don’t speak English, people with disabilities, or the 17 percent of Americans who only access the internet on a mobile device. It’s difficult for people to apply for benefits if they don’t understand the eligibility rules.
The People’s Parity Project, a national advocacy group led by law students, scanned each state’s agency website in mid-March, during the early days of the pandemic and its concomitant layoffs, and before the federal government stepped in. The project found that many states gave inaccurate information regarding UI benefits—even those states with otherwise laudable UI programs. Massachusetts, which has one of the highest average benefits in the country, claimed on its website that workers who receive a 1099 tax form (for independent contractors) are ineligible for traditional benefits. This isn’t true—some workers are improperly (and illegally) classified as independent contractors and are otherwise eligible for UI. Yet these workers would have been discouraged from applying.
That language has since been removed from Massachusetts’s website.