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: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 254220

Reported Deaths: 3241
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby37111570
Davidson32483346
Knox1304995
Rutherford12271115
Hamilton12057111
Williamson731956
Sumner6305113
Wilson484760
Putnam454857
Montgomery433360
Out of TN417735
Sullivan392349
Madison389280
Bradley366723
Washington366353
Blount346436
Sevier346122
Maury343138
Robertson266943
Hamblen252550
Tipton243923
Dyer232438
Gibson220549
Unassigned21075
Coffee196226
Hardeman192933
Obion184723
Greene183154
Trousdale17819
Anderson176714
Bedford176320
Dickson174719
Fayette174425
Lawrence169620
McMinn168338
Loudon167812
Cumberland165127
Carter163034
Wayne16127
Weakley160126
Jefferson158823
Monroe150729
Warren149011
Lauderdale147417
Henderson143626
Hardin142622
Roane13878
Macon137125
Haywood131728
Franklin131423
Overton124818
Hawkins124525
White122814
Marshall117211
Johnson11717
Carroll116126
McNairy115029
Rhea113219
Cocke112314
Cheatham109112
Campbell107113
Bledsoe10334
Smith102414
Giles99438
Lake9904
Fentress93411
Lincoln9313
Crockett89722
Henry82112
Hickman82015
Marion80910
DeKalb77917
Chester74015
Decatur67411
Grainger6354
Grundy58511
Union5523
Claiborne5387
Polk53313
Jackson4686
Humphreys4624
Unicoi4573
Morgan4517
Benton4319
Lewis4315
Cannon4302
Houston42817
Clay41515
Scott4005
Sequatchie3572
Stewart34411
Perry3365
Meigs3326
Pickett2839
Moore2772
Van Buren2122
Hancock1233

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