FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDKY) – One of the only places with lines longer than a COVID-19 testing site during this pandemic has been the unemployment office.
Patricia Restoff is no stranger to that line, as a carpenter, she has to file for benefits between projects.
But, for the second time this year, she’s been waiting weeks, even months for a check.
“I had to file a new claim in November and when I did that, my checks stopped coming,” Restoff said.
Like thousands of Kentuckians struggling to get their unemployment claims processed and their money received on time, Restoff has called, emailed, and waited in lines in person with only some success.
“I’ve been through this challenge twice this year, there’s a lot of people that have been holding on since the first part of the year, my fellow brothers and sisters out there,” Restoff said. “I know it impacts each family differently, I just try to keep my expenses as low as possible.”
When asked about an unemployment update Tuesday, the governor said its conflicting guidance from the Department of Labor, an outdated IT system, and previous budget cuts that are making it such a time-consuming process.
“The other challenge is the whole system is set up, from federal to state law, to create problems,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “So, we don’t just spend every day on new claims that have been filed or claims that we haven’t gotten to, we have people that have been on it for two months and then may answer a question wrong in the system and we have to spend that ten or fifteen minutes to walk them through it, to get it right for them to continue their benefits, so it’s hugely burdensome.”
But, for the single mom, it’s a lot of excuses that don’t pay off her expenses.
“I’m just in a state of desperation looking for answers,” Restoff said. “I just hope and pray that I see a check come this week before the holiday.”
The state extended a contract with Ernst and Young through the end of the year to help with processing the historic number of claims. But, it’s unclear what the state’s plan is after the new year.