SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state’s unemployment system is overloaded with hundreds of thousands of people filing new claims every week.
Last week, 22News spoke with local hairstylist Bobbie Smith who is unable to work due to COVID-19. She still hasn’t received her unemployment check or even a call back from the state in three weeks.
“I sent the forms in 7 more times to have someone call me back I don’t know what else to do” said Smith. “This is going on 3 weeks without having a paycheck and by the way it looks it’s going to be even longer.”
According to the Department of Unemployment Assistance during the last week of March they handled more than 181,000 new claims; a record number. The DUA released the following statement to 22News:
“The Department of Unemployment Assistance is focused on supporting workers through these challenging times and continues to process new claims as quickly as possible. The Department continues to prioritize efforts to process claims through the online system and by phone, and has deployed over 500 new employees to work remotely to help meet the increased volume. The Department has made over 50,000 individual callbacks and has held unemployment town halls in both English and Spanish, which have been attended by over 100,000 constituents. DUA will continue to work collaboratively with government, business, labor, and non-profit partners on implementing innovative solutions to support individuals eligible for unemployment and provide the financial assistance they need during this difficult time.”DUA
The Department said, [It] “looks forward to implementing changes to the unemployment system that will provide an additional $600 to all unemployment claimants and extend eligibility to the self-employed, those who have exhausted unemployment benefits, and those who did not meet income thresholds.
The Department has recently received federal guidance related to the CARES Act’s application requirements, business rules, eligibility standards, exceptions, and technical requirements and will act swiftly to provide needed financial assistance to residents of the Commonwealth as soon as possible.”DUA