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A Year Into the Pandemic, Kentuckians Still Struggling to Get Unemployment

In the annual Statewide Single Audit, Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon presented what he calls the 25 issues with Kentucky's Office of Unemployment Insurance and found more than 400,000 unread emails from claimants asking for help.

Posted: Feb 24, 2021 10:45 PM

December was the last time Terri Nelson received an unemployment check from the state of Kentucky.

"From then on out just haven't received no payments, no notice, nothing else," Nelson said.

Now she's two months behind on rent and the landlord has come knocking.

"This was the first time actually that they've contacted me at all about being behind on rent, which I was surprised that they weren't knocking on my door before then," she said.

Nelson moved to Owensboro last February. She found work providing care for the elderly, but when the pandemic hit she had to stop.

"I thought it was just going to be a few weeks and then it turned into a month," Nelson said. "So I applied for unemployment and that was in March I think, but I didn't end up getting it until July."

The money finally came in and kept coming until December when she had to reapply, but now she's stuck in a gridlock -- one so many Kentuckians can't seem to find their way out of.

"Every Thursday I get a call from the robot thing that says 'we know its been hard to get a hold of us'," Nelson said. "The same message every week: click 1 if you've been helped, click 2 if you want to stay in queue."

In the annual Statewide Single Audit, Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon presented what he calls the 25 issues with Kentucky's Office of Unemployment Insurance and found more than 400,000 unread emails from claimants asking for help.

"Personally, it breaks my heart to think of those Kentuckians included in those 400,000 unread emails who so desperately wanted their voices heard and yet were ignored," Harmon said in a video announcement on his findings. "The system failure of leadership on all levels not only violated federal law but also let down many who needed relief."

Nelson agrees it's a broken system, one her daughter is also struggling to find her way through.

Her daughter also filed for unemployment last March but has yet to receive a single check.

Though, there's not much they can do but wait in a queue that never seems to end, hoping for someone to finally answer their calls.

"It's hard to plan anything at all, you just can't," Nelson said. "You just have to go by, hopefully somebody will call you back, I mean it's a simple fix."

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Wow!!!! It's cold!!!! After a trace of snow in Evansville and some highe amounts to the south, we're waking up to temperatures in the mid to upper teens across the Tri-State. Thankfully, road crews did a fantastic job treating the roads to keep conditions from getting slick. However, the northerly winds gusting as high as 15 to 20 mph has dropped wind chill values into the single digits and even below zero in our western communities. There won't be much of an improvement in temperatures this afternoon. With the strong northerly wind flow and dry skies our highs will only reach the mid to upper 20s. Winds will stay quite breezy keeping the wind chill factor in place through the day.
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