Thousands of people wait for Ky’s unemployment office to resolve claims

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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) – Thousands of Kentuckians are still struggling to get their unemployment benefits. Labor cabinet officials told the legislature’s UI reform task force on Tuesday that they were working to deal with about 80,000 individual claims in their backlog.

In addition to an outdated system that they are spending $ 47 million to change, Jamie Link told lawmakers the problems stem from a lack of employees. Their call center has 35 employees and four openings.

“We face the same challenges that many, if not most, Commonwealth employers face. We are currently evaluating our salary ranges and looking at ways – we are constantly posting vacancies and getting no response to that or very much. few responses, ”said Link.“ We are not only exploring ways to improve how we can hire more people, but also virtual and other technology solutions that allow us to meet the needs of the requester in the best way. possible.”

Charlene Abshire and her son Kyle Condu are hoping their benefits will come overnight. They were both laid off within a week of each other and are almost out of money.

“Our companies contributed to that, and it’s something we were owed. In a case like this, there are criteria in there, and we meet that criterion. So there is no reason we don’t have this money owed It’s like you go to the bank and they deposit money into your account, you have your money deposited, but the bank said our systems are down, you can’t take it, ”Abshire said.

Abshire worked at a college, while Condu worked as a welder. He has since found another job but cannot start until a month-long background check is completed. He hoped that unemployment benefits would hold him back until then.

“I’m just doing all I can to get by right now. I’ve been [selling] my own plasma to earn some money on the side. But yes, it was tough. I mean, I have a truck payment coming up, and I don’t know how I’m going to pay, ”Condu said.

The challenge they face is trying to find someone who can resolve their cases.

“There are a lot of phone numbers to call on the website, but they all tell you you’ll have to try again later; there’s no number to call that you can reach anyone,” said Condu.

Do you need help with unemployment?

As of 5:00 p.m. Thursday, the UI office did not respond to our request for comment.

However, earlier this month, they told us claimants should continue to call their call center at (502) 564-2900 to speak to an UI representative who could help them.

LEX 18 called several times on Thursday. A recording indicated that all agents were assisting other callers and the call ended.

Officials also told us that applicants should make an in-person appointment. Abshire traveled 10 hours round trip to a regional office for an in-person appointment, and the agent was unable to settle her claim.

“I feel very frustrated because I feel like all communication is cut off with us. We can’t communicate with anyone. I have that money out there that’s available to me, but I can’t get it. get it. I’m strapped for cash right now. I don’t have the money to buy things like food and gas, “Abshire said.

Eight months ago, the auditor discovered 400,000 emails sent to the employment office and ignored. Acting Executive Director Buddy Hoskinson said about 127,000 were one-time requests. Of that number, they’re still working to resolve 24,000 emailed issues.

From March 2020 to September 2021, UI officials say they received more than 2.4 million UI claims and compared that number to 10 years of work.

They say they helped 56,000 people with complaints and took 90,000 phone calls from April 15 to September 24.

We don’t know if this was all resolved or when all outstanding claims would be paid.


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