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: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12186230
Mobile9269204
Montgomery6350148
Madison512227
Tuscaloosa400269
Baldwin332223
Shelby311932
Marshall300134
Unassigned287856
Lee255442
Morgan227015
Etowah196728
DeKalb172113
Elmore163337
Calhoun162713
Walker147964
Houston133412
Dallas129823
Russell12672
St. Clair125214
Limestone122713
Franklin121520
Cullman117112
Colbert112213
Lauderdale111113
Autauga103021
Escambia98115
Talladega94613
Jackson8904
Chambers83238
Tallapoosa82778
Dale79823
Butler75435
Blount7453
Chilton7386
Coffee7255
Covington71620
Pike6727
Barbour5645
Lowndes56124
Marion54724
Marengo52914
Clarke4919
Hale45926
Bullock44411
Winston43511
Perry4324
Wilcox41110
Monroe3964
Randolph39210
Bibb3844
Pickens3769
Conecuh37310
Sumter36018
Lawrence3251
Macon31613
Washington31512
Crenshaw3073
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2497
Greene24711
Henry2473
Geneva2430
Clay2255
Lamar2052
Fayette1785
Cleburne1211
Coosa952
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 114098

Reported Deaths: 1144
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21924298
Davidson19812208
Rutherford625453
Hamilton580347
Knox418638
Williamson336322
Sumner326471
Unassigned29285
Out of TN279314
Wilson215223
Montgomery178113
Bradley177112
Sevier17636
Putnam164613
Trousdale15766
Robertson147519
Hamblen131113
Blount11868
Tipton11379
Washington11142
Maury11077
Madison95714
Bedford89011
Sullivan85911
Macon84713
Hardeman84312
Lake7580
Loudon6863
Bledsoe6741
Fayette6468
Anderson6376
Dickson6301
Gibson6152
Dyer5797
Cheatham5546
Rhea5141
Jefferson5133
McMinn49820
Lawrence4976
Henderson4830
Obion4644
Warren4544
Carter4525
Coffee4482
Lauderdale4457
Hardin4267
Cocke4212
Haywood4145
Greene3986
Roane3982
Cumberland3976
Smith3933
Hawkins3915
Monroe3809
Giles36012
McNairy3355
Weakley3293
DeKalb3261
Franklin2964
Marshall2713
Lincoln2591
Carroll2513
Crockett2464
Hickman2400
Claiborne2350
White2323
Henry2310
Campbell2241
Wayne2222
Johnson2140
Marion2104
Chester2012
Grainger1810
Polk1813
Decatur1742
Overton1411
Unicoi1410
Union1330
Cannon1310
Humphreys1133
Benton1111
Jackson1091
Scott1050
Grundy1042
Meigs990
Sequatchie960
Morgan941
Perry770
Fentress760
Hancock761
Stewart720
Clay660
Lewis621
Houston540
Moore530
Van Buren330
Pickett271

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