NewsCovering Kentucky


Kentuckians still waiting for unemployment benefits as state contract with Ernst & Young expires

Posted at 9:36 PM, Aug 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-30 23:28:59-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Thousands of unemployment claims are still unresolved as the state’s contract with global accounting firm Ernst and Young expired Sunday.

Governor Andy Beshear announced the multi-million dollar contract on June 30, with the goal to help the Commonwealth catch up to a backlog of 56,000 claims from March, April and May.

Two months later, Kentuckians are still waiting for aid.

David Hunt applied for unemployment insurance in March when his employer, a fencing company in Bourbon County, told him he couldn’t return to work because of COVID-19.

A letter from the Kentucky Office of Unemployment Insurance detailing his weekly eligibility for $176 of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) arrived shortly after.

Following the letter was a debit card from the Office of the State Treasurer, to which Hunt said he has not received a single payment.

“We called and called and called. We’ve gone on the website. We sent numerous emails and text messages. We haven’t gotten anything back,” said Barbara Humphrey, Hunt’s partner.

Hunt and Humphrey live together with their one-year-old son Maddux. The pandemic has been financially draining and the delay in receiving Hunt’s unemployment benefits has left them dealing with the consequences.

“[The unemployment insurance office is] moving so slowly, but meanwhile, we’re being evicted from our home,” Humphrey said.

Hunt’s account on the unemployment website shows his claim is under investigation, which could indicate a number of issues. Attempts at resolving the problem have been fruitless, according to Hunt.

“I think I’ve called 30 or 40 times back to back for hours and they didn’t answer. I’ve sent maybe 20 or 30 emails. They won’t answer,” he said.

Humphrey explained the family was hoping to wait longer until COVID-19 cases were minimal before returning to work. While they do need an income, their toddler Maddux is immunocompromised.

“If David were to go get a job, it could be potentially dangerous for our son. So, I don’t want him to work but it has put us in a really bad predicament,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey said they’re holding out hope their luck changes with the unemployment system before they entirely run out of options.