Ky. Labor Cabinet still working on major backlog of unemployment claims

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 11:40 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Labor Cabinet officials say their staff is still working to resolve a major backlog of unemployment claims.

Lawmakers were told Thursday morning that 1.2 million claims have been filed since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, thousands of claims remain unresolved.

Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry Roberts told lawmakers in the interim panel that, in the last several days, they have addressed 7,000 March claims and they believe they are close to resolving the oldest claims from the beginning of the pandemic.

“We feel very confident that every March claim, initial claim that was filed, has been touched as of yesterday afternoon. Some activity on that.” Roberts said.

They say they have extended the contract with Ernst and Young to the end of this year to help in that backlog and that Governor Beshear has used $4.5 million in CARES money to upgrade the state’s antiquated computer system.

Some people have told us they were told to pay back the money the government overpaid them, but Roberts said they have sent a letter to the federal government asking that that money won’t have to be paid back.

A lot of that deals with people who chose not to go to work for fear of the pandemic and who were not necessarily laid off. That’s called PUA money. Still, lawmakers say they are constantly hearing from constituents who are having a lot of problems.

“And those people who are about to lose everything they have. Is there some way to make those a priority? I have no doubts you all have discussed this, but I think you can feel the desperation in these people’s voices,” said Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah.

Roberts said it’s simply been a daunting task and that the only thing they can do is prioritize the oldest claims those from March and April with the hope of getting those resolved. He says staffing has been the biggest problem.

“That there will be some additional funding from USDOL, to hire additional staff to have more people trained,” Roberts said.

Labor officials were also asked how Kentucky’s response to unemployment compared to other states and one official said it was in the middle, with some things they did well, others with a lot of work to do.

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