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Unpaid unemployment: the frustrations surrounding delays in receiving payments

Unemployment claim chaos (Pt. 1)
Unemployment claim chaos (Pt. 1) 02:58

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Several times per week here at KDKA, we hear from unemployed people whose frustrations have boiled over while trying to get some help from the state -- so John Shumway went asking for answers.

The state has been forthright about all of this. When the pandemic started, they were staffed for low unemployment, and then they were suddenly hit by record unemployment. They've added people to their staff, with more help on the way.

When you're living without a paycheck and the help that you qualify for doesn't show up, it's frustrating.

One woman says she is eligible for unemployment and has done everything she was supposed to, but has never received any payments, nor any explanations of any kind. 

She says when she logs in online, it tells her that the claims are processing, and that when she tries calling the 1-800 number, it's busy all day, starting at 8 a.m. 

Susan Dickinson, the Deputy Secretary of Unemployment Compensation with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor says that is indeed difficult to call, especially earlier in the week, but says it's been that way even before the pandemic. 

A year ago, the backlog of claims waiting to be processed was around 115,000, but that number has been reduced down to 66,000.

"We have around 66,000 claims that are waiting for some sort of action on it," Dickinson said.

From minor issues to large ones, those issues have to be dealt with and Dickinson says there are no shortcuts.

"So in all cases, they will hear from us when we get to them on our pending list. We typically do have to call individuals and get more information," Dickinson said.

Unemployment claim chaos (Pt. 2) 02:42

The good news is that there is more help coming, with around 150 additional staff members coming on board over the next month.

If you're having trouble reaching the department over the phone or online, you can sign up for an in-person session on Mondays and Tuesdays at CareerLink offices.

Even if you're not getting a check, you still need to keep filing every week. When a determination is made to see if you are eligible, all those payments would be issued at once.

And if you do find a job, you still will get the money for all of the weeks that you filed for if you're determined to be eligible.

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