FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — As more businesses in Kentucky close down because of the new coronavirus, more people are filing for unemployment.
On March 16th, through an executive order, Kentucky waived certain unemployment benefit rules to ensure that people who lose their jobs because of the virus can access the funds they need. First, the state waived the mandatory one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. It also eliminated the requirement for those people to search for work while they receive benefits.
"We have waived the waiting period for unemployment. There are not going to be any job search requirements," said Governor Andy Beshear. "Apply for it."
HOW DOES THIS CHANGE HELP?
Josh Benton, the deputy secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, says it allows people to get two weeks of pay the first time they request benefits.
"The executive order allows individuals who are claiming benefits to do two things at the same time," said Benton. "When they experience job loss, they can file for unemployment insurance and request benefits. So that first unemployment insurance benefit is for a full two week period."
Before this change, people had to wait seven days after they applied for unemployment and they did not get paid for that week.
WHO CAN APPLY?
- People who lost their job because of the coronavirus
- People who go into medical quarantine because of the coronavirus
"This mean two really different scenarios," said Benton. "One is if someone experiences quarantine and during that process has separation of employment. We will be able to provide unemployment insurance to those individuals."
"Additionally, if there are fluctuations in the economy that cause employers to lay people off," said Benton. "We are going to view both of these situations as temporary job loss situations."
HOW LONG WILL KENTUCKY PROVIDE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE?
The state allows people who qualify to request benefits every two weeks for a maximum of 26 weeks - or until they get a new job or are called back to work.
"Either when their time of quarantine ends, or when their employer calls them back to work," said Benton. "They will remain on unemployment insurance until that time has come."
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE?
You can file a claim online or by phone.
Below is the location and phone number individuals can call for KCC services including unemployment insurance questions. Your asked to use the phone number for the location nearest you so that no location is overwhelmed.
|Bowling Green area ||270-746-7425 |
|Elizabethtown area ||270-766-5115 |
|Covington area ||859-292-6666 |
|Hazard area ||888-503-1423 |
|Hopkinsville area ||270-889-6509 |
|Lexington area ||859-233-5940 |
|Louisville area ||502-595-4003 |
|Morehead area ||606-783-8525 |
|Owensboro area ||270-686-2502 |
|Paducah area ||270-575-7000 |
|Prestonsburg area ||888-503-1423 |
|Somerset area ||606-677-4124 |
WHEN CAN YOU APPLY?
Due to layoffs caused by the coronavirus, there is a big increase in the number of people applying for unemployment. That has caused problems with the system. Some people are frustrated that they cannot get through both by phone and online.
To keep the process as efficient as possible, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet created a new procedure to apply for unemployment insurance. They basically set up a schedule.
The schedule tells people which day they can file their claim. Their day is assigned based on the first letter of their last name. The schedule also allows for a makeup date in case someone misses their day.
“We are putting this new procedure in place so that we can handle the large influx of new claims that we are seeing this week. The number of UI claims being processed by the cabinet has jumped significantly after new restrictions were placed on restaurants and other public places,” said Benton.
“Please follow this new process if you are filing a UI claim so that our computer and phone systems will perform at optimal levels. We want to make sure we can receive and process claims for all those experiencing job loss,” said Benton.
WHAT ABOUT INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS?
On March 25th, Governor Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky has opened up access to people who are self-employed or work as independent contractors.
"I'm happy to report that as of (Wednesday, 3/25/2020), independent contractors, small business owners, substitute teachers, gig economy workers, child care workers from churches, cosmetologists, and anyone who has had to leave their job because of quarantine or paid leave now qualifies for unemployment in Kentucky," said Beshear.
Before Wednesday, these people were ineligible to receive benefits in Kentucky.
"This means that so many of you who are out there - who are worried - are now able to file and we want you to," said Beshear.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER BENEFITS?
Governor Beshear announced that people who lose their jobs because of the coronavirus can also get benefits from these programs:
- Medicaid (including the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program)
- Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (KTAP) (cash/welfare assistance)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (food benefits)
- Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
Those who currently have those benefits will be automatically extended.
"If you are on any benefit in Kentucky - any public assistance. It's going to be extended three months - three months from when it expires," said Beshear. "If your Medicaid, if your SNAP benefits, any of those are expiring this month, next month - they're going to be extended three months."
The governor asked that people who were planning on calling to extend their benefits do not do it.
"Don't call. And I mean in nicely. Don't call because we're needing to sign other people up," said Beshear. "It's just being a good neighbor. We got you. You don't have to file for that extension."
SHOULD YOU APPLY?
The governor says everyone who qualifies should get the help they need.
"There is not stigma for public assistance," said Beshear. "We want everybody who qualifies to be on it."