FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Nine months into the pandemic and the coronavirus continues to inflict pain on Kentuckians in different ways.
For the thousands of people struggling with unemployment, their patience is being tested.
"I just want a response," Kristie Hudnall, of Paris, told LEX 18, while detailing her experience navigating the unemployment system.
Hudnall said she has not received any unemployment benefits since late July. Between March and July, Hudnall did receive benefits while on furlough. But when her job was eliminated, she was told she had to file a new claim.
"It requested that I file a new claim, so I did and I put it in, filled it out, and put in all the information that I was supposed to," she said. "It kept saying your employer has to get back to you and everything. Well all of a sudden that claim disappeared in the system."
Five months and three claims later, Hudnall has not been able to speak to a person on the phone.
Her story is one of thousands that encapsulate the lingering issues with the unemployment system.
According to the latest data from the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, 85,901 unemployment claims remain unresolved.
In a conversation Tuesday with LEX 18's Larry Smith, Gov. Andy Beshear again pointed to the high volume of applications and an antiquated computer system to explain the backlog.
"I know it doesn't provide solace to them," he said. "But we are working as hard and as fast as we can to provide the relief that's necessary."
Hudnall said she appreciates the governor's efforts, but that his words aren't enough.
"We're keeping up with our bills," she said. "But pretty soon, if I don't find something or if I don't get some type of break or hear something from the unemployment office, then we've got to start making some [hard] decisions."
In response to a request for information, a spokesperson with the Labor Cabinet sent LEX 18 the following:
"Since the pandemic began, there have been approximately 1,362,000 claims filed for unemployment insurance. Kentucky has paid out more than $5 billion to Kentuckians since March, but no one in state government will be satisfied until all Kentuckians have received the unemployment benefits for which they qualify.
The unresolved initial claims are listed below:
March claims – 593
April claims – 10,205
May claims – 10,343
June claims – 12,099
July claims – 13,635
August claims – 12,978
September claims – 11,870
October claims – 14,178
Initial claims which are unpaid and awaiting claimant action:
March claims – 315
April claims – 2,922
May claims – 6,644
June claims – 5,295
July claims– 6,180
August claims – 2,085
September claims – 918
October claims – 1,244
Note: Claims awaiting claimant action are claims cleared for payment, but claimants have either not claimed the weeks’ payments or provided required certifications."