WAAY31 I-TEAM: 124,000 Alabamians still waiting on unemployment benefits

The state said it's had 400,000 unemployment claims filed since the start of the pandemic.

Posted: May 1, 2020 6:26 PM
Updated: May 1, 2020 7:51 PM

Some 400,000 people in Alabama lost their job since the start of the pandemic. The state admits about a third of them are still waiting for their first unemployment check.

WAAY31 spoke with a cosmologist, a restaurant server, and a professor who are all struggling on different levels and still waiting for their unemployment check. The issues with the Alabama Department of Labor range from calls going unanswered, issues with the website, and lack of communication.

"I have tried to call them everyday," said Tuscumbia cosmetologist, Jenna Daniel.

Daniel's story is similar to restaurant server Aj Santos' story, "I tried over 150 times." Adjunct professor Richard Wallace said the same, "I called them 39 times."

The coronavirus cost all three them their livelihoods. Daniel, Santos, and Wallace told WAAY31 they all applied for unemployment between March 20th-March 28th. They are all still waiting on help along with thousands of other Alabamians.

"Trying to figure out how to stay a float has been nerve wracking because I've depleted all my savings," said Santos.

Daniel told WAAY31 she's getting to the point that she's worried about groceries. Wallace said for now he's okay but soon that won't be the case.

"If I can't access unemployment I'm not going to be able to survive over the summer," said Wallace.

Santos' claim was denied because it didn't list his most recent employer in Huntsville. He tried calling to appeal or fix it but gets no answer. Daniels and Wallace both applied and have gotten letters but they don't know if their claims are actually being processed.

"It's just been a headache like when I try to login it will say I make too much money which I don't so I don't know where they got that from," said Wallace.

Over zoom with a shared screen Wallace took WAAY31 to the site to show the issues he's facing. He logged in and put his pin number in and clicked various links on the page which lead to another page that said Error in big letters.

WAAY31 contacted the state department of labor about the issue.

"I haven't heard anything about the website crashing," said Alabama Department of Labor Spokesperson, Tara Hutchinson. She said she wanted to see the video clip of this happening so she could report it to their IT department. WAAY31 also asked Hutchinson about all of the other complaints.

Tara hutchinson is the spokesperson for alabama’s department of labor. I asked her about the list of complaints we heard from people.

"We understand there are still issues with our inquiry line we are working to modify that and make it more accessible," said Hutchison.

Even after contracting with a call center to add 100 people on the lines and reassigning employees to help with complaints, Hutchinson said there’s not much more the state can do because it's an overwhelming about of unemployment claims.

"Its tough all 50 states are experiencing the same thing. We're experiencing a tsunami of claims," said Hutchinson.

The department said it's considering bringing back retired employees to help in this unprecedented time. Time that's eating away at what money unemployed Alabamians have left and still waiting for the state to help.

"The system is broken," said Santos.

Daniel said, "Our state was not prepared to handle this amount of claims."

People will get their back pay for unemployment if and when they get approved. The department of labor said it's very important to log the earnings you've lost each week so they state can back pay you.

A few weeks ago the department of labor launched a claim tracker but this week as people went to check 4 other peoples sensitive information popped up. The department of labor posted on it's Facebook page saying it is aware of the breach and is providing the people with identity protection because of their mistake.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 710427

Reported Deaths: 8970
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby790251186
Davidson73248697
Knox40335452
Hamilton35983347
Rutherford34271298
Unassigned23946140
Williamson22259150
Sumner18862237
Out of TN1644883
Montgomery15200153
Wilson14878167
Sullivan13002221
Blount12382136
Washington12206206
Maury11337131
Bradley11263101
Sevier10877123
Putnam10200152
Madison9364186
Robertson793088
Hamblen7261119
Anderson7031116
Greene6779117
Tipton639571
Coffee578584
Gibson5767117
Dickson559082
Cumberland556777
Bedford546092
Roane536083
McMinn524674
Lawrence524369
Carter5215121
Warren511656
Loudon510352
Jefferson497078
Dyer487487
Monroe471964
Hawkins461473
Franklin426067
Fayette415953
Obion406683
Rhea391858
Lincoln388347
Cocke359063
Marshall358140
Cheatham350332
Weakley345948
Campbell338742
Henderson338659
Giles334476
Carroll318362
White317749
Hardeman315854
Hardin306650
Lauderdale299934
Macon294751
Wayne270325
Henry269960
Overton260546
McNairy249042
DeKalb247443
Haywood245650
Marion236233
Smith235430
Trousdale230617
Scott230432
Claiborne230033
Hickman229836
Fentress217835
Grainger217240
Johnson205335
Morgan196616
Crockett183738
Chester179039
Bledsoe178211
Unicoi170147
Cannon161721
Lake158522
Polk150517
Decatur149027
Union145725
Grundy143622
Sequatchie142120
Humphreys137717
Benton134135
Lewis131121
Meigs119216
Stewart112220
Jackson106624
Clay96526
Perry96325
Houston95226
Moore8319
Pickett69220
Van Buren6758
Hancock4227

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