The Bulletin Board

NH Supreme Court rules in state’s favor on federal unemployment benefits lawsuit

By: - December 8, 2022 2:20 pm
Exterior of the New Hampshire Supreme Court on a sunny day

The state ended federal unemployment benefits in June 2021, two months before the program was to end. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The state did not violate the law when it ended pandemic unemployment benefits ahead of the federal deadline, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. 

The state was one of at least 15 to be sued after ending federal unemployment benefits in June 2021, two months before the program was to end. 

The four people who brought the case against the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security and its commissioner in August 2021 asked that the unemployment assistance be reinstated for the last two months of the federal program. They also sought back pay for benefits they didn’t receive while the federal funding was available. 

The plaintiffs argued the pandemic unemployment assistance was provided under the federal Social Security Act and therefore could not be interfered with by state authorities. 

A superior court judge rejected their argument in September 2021, saying their arguments were based on misinterpretations of federal law.

Wednesday, the state Supreme Court upheld that finding in a unanimous decision. 

The court said the state’s only obligation was to give 30 days notice that the pandemic benefits would end. Gov. Chris Sununu did so, the court found. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]