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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

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19306349
Mobile13233291
Montgomery8748177
Madison770978
Tuscaloosa7418116
Lee579261
Shelby578750
Baldwin514149
Marshall389244
Etowah340247
Calhoun340140
Morgan323926
Houston276423
Elmore259647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair226337
Walker225383
Talladega210628
Limestone203319
Cullman186818
Dallas175926
Franklin175229
Russell17322
Autauga171525
Lauderdale167333
Colbert162926
Blount158015
Escambia157725
Jackson154011
Chilton152431
Dale134644
Covington133427
Coffee12988
Pike11799
Chambers114442
Tallapoosa113885
Clarke107017
Marion95429
Butler91139
Barbour8517
Winston71812
Marengo70519
Lowndes65227
Pickens64514
Bibb63810
Randolph62713
Hale61928
Lawrence60522
Bullock59714
Geneva5864
Cherokee58315
Monroe5808
Clay5547
Washington55113
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52732
Henry4835
Macon47920
Fayette4358
Sumter43219
Lamar3572
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3356
Greene30315
Coosa1673
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 186798

Reported Deaths: 2277
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30397449
Davidson26194297
Hamilton926392
Knox911575
Rutherford911388
Williamson513936
Sumner475093
Wilson341243
Putnam317038
Montgomery301543
Out of TN296825
Unassigned29046
Bradley288317
Madison278060
Sevier255315
Blount246123
Maury228923
Washington223234
Robertson218835
Sullivan209332
Hamblen187325
Tipton176617
Trousdale16517
Gibson158620
Hardeman154625
Wayne14896
Bedford131717
Dyer131413
Dickson123014
Cumberland116918
Fayette116718
Coffee115612
Anderson115311
Henderson115121
Weakley114519
Carter114128
Loudon11316
Greene111839
Obion11129
McMinn109424
Jefferson108514
Macon103320
Warren10197
Monroe101017
Lawrence100311
Hardin99115
Lauderdale94915
Franklin9458
Haywood93316
Lake9192
Roane8643
Carroll84918
Bledsoe8484
McNairy82418
White8069
Cheatham80510
Rhea79111
Hawkins78016
Cocke7379
Marshall7335
Overton7085
Smith69710
Johnson6622
Henry6129
Chester60510
Lincoln5961
Giles57617
Hickman5535
DeKalb55013
Crockett52919
Marion5167
Decatur4956
Fentress4623
Claiborne4384
Campbell4243
Polk38010
Grainger3603
Union3451
Benton3349
Jackson3145
Morgan3103
Cannon2810
Unicoi2811
Grundy2635
Humphreys2433
Sequatchie2262
Meigs2213
Clay2155
Scott2082
Houston1981
Stewart1822
Lewis1791
Moore1611
Van Buren1590
Perry1490
Hancock1073
Pickett1072

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