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Paid family leave application backlog has ‘all been cleared,’ CT officials say

family walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago
Rebecca Nelson
/
Getty Images / The Image Bank RF
A family walks down Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

After an initial rollout that saw delays and thousands of backlogged applications in Connecticut's new paid family medical leave program, officials now say they’ve made the changes necessary to get the program back on track.

The program went online in January, and it’s intended to make it easier for residents to take time away from work without losing income. But the state says the first three months were full of delays and miscommunications, and officials say the surge of the omicron variant of the coronavirus was at least partly to blame.

The virus by itself isn’t reason enough to qualify for the program. Still, that didn’t stop thousands of residents from applying and overwhelming the system. At any given time, there were roughly 4,000 backlogged applications. Now that the surge has subsided, the program has been able to catch up.

“Today I can tell you that all of the backlog – every single claim that should have been adjudicated within a certain period of time – has now all been cleared,” Andrea Barton Reeves, CEO of the CT Paid Leave Authority, said at a virtual news conference Thursday.

The state had hired outside vendor Aflac Inc. to administer the program.

“It’s not acceptable by our standards at Aflac, it’s not what the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority or Connecticut workers expected from the program, and it’s not what we’re going to see going forward,” said Scott Beeman, an Aflac vice president.

Barton Reeves says the keys moving forward are ensuring that people understand the program and that they have a good experience when they need to enroll. She also said the average weekly payment under the program is about $560.

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