ATLANTA — While the Georgia Department of Labor has a high percentage of claims paid out, 11Alive viewers have still reached out daily to share their struggles navigating the unemployment system - from the time it takes to get checks to long wait times on hold.
11Alive is Where Atlanta Speaks, and we hear you. So, we took a deeper look into that small percentage of unfulfilled claims, including Anthony White's case.
He told 11Alive he's been waiting for an unemployment check for 15 weeks now.
"I tried to borrow money from family and friends and postpone things like rent, utilities, cell phone, and it’s just been overwhelming. You can’t do anything," he said.
White's 11-year-old daughter Anyla is spending extra time with a relative out of state to help ease some of the financial strain.
"It’s difficult to tell your daughter that you can’t do certain things," he said.
As of this week, the Georgia Department of Labor reported paying out 91 percent of all eligible claims submitted. But, we keep hearing from the remaining nine percent who haven't, some cases dating back to March.
DOL spokesperson Kersha Cartwright said it takes a little longer with some of the more challenging claims.
Cartwright explained it takes about four to five weeks to process a claim through the automated system. But, there could be four main factors for why your claim may take longer.
1. Incomplete applications
If you make an error or don't properly answer a question in the automated system, a DOL team member has to manually review the application, which takes longer and could instantly put you outside of the four- to five-week window.
2. Applications that are the result of termination
"Particularly these claims that, where an individual has quit or have been fired - we have to go in and look at those and make a determination of eligibility," Cartwright explained. "Did they lose their job to no fault of their own?"
3. Your employer may be to blame
These employer-filed claims - converting them to individual claims is critical," Cartwright explained. "If those employers will convert those claims from employers file claims to individual ones, that happens immediately and that individual can continue to claim those weeks."
Cartwright added this could explain why some people initially received checks but then stopped.
4. System overload
With a record number of people filing claims, it has created strain on the system. So here are a few dos and don'ts.
If it has not been four to five weeks, please don't call or email to check the status.
"That’s adding to our list," Cartwright explained.
When it is outside that anticipated time frame, don't send multiple emails and leave multiple voicemail messages. A DOL worker has to go through each and every one, and duplicates could take up time they don't have.
"We are answering emails in the order they were received," she added.
Cartwright said you should anticipate two to three days before hearing back. And when a team member is returning a call, they try to leave a time frame when it's best to reach them back to help eliminate phone tag.
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