NewsCovering Kentucky


Vaccine arrives, but Kentuckians still searching for unemployment claim answers

Posted at 7:59 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 19:59:47-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The vaccine is a long-term solution to the pandemic problem.

But many Kentuckians are still looking for immediate relief, especially financially.

The shutdown of schools, restaurants, offices, and theaters sent thousands to the unemployment line starting in March. Some are still waiting for their claims to be answered.

The closures were part of an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the overwhelming of hospitals.

While deserted Main Streets across America grabbed the headlines, healthcare workers were impacted too, including Teri Neal's daughter, Hannah Puckett.

Puckett is a nurse's assistant and mother of three.

When elective procedures were canceled, Neal says Puckett was sent home.

"So she was out for six weeks, from March until the first part of May," said Neal.

Puckett is back to work, but Neal says her daughter is still missing those six weeks of unemployment benefits. That has created a financial pinch that continues to impact three generations.

"They haven't lost the home, managed to have help with food, and just with a little bit of family support. It's just playing catch-up right now," said Neal.

When her contract with Fayette County Schools expired at the end of June, Gibson says she filed for unemployment.

On July 11, she says she was asked for verify one bit of information.

"I've requested every two weeks and I've not spoken to a person. I've not gotten a single payment," said Gibson.

Gibson's daughter, Hannah, is in first grade and has spent the year learning virtually. The situation makes it difficult for Gibson, an educator herself, to look for work.

"Also, if the schools are not open, there are not open positions for me to keep applying for," said Gibson.

With 11 days before Christmas, Gibson worries about what will happen once mandates preventing evictions expire and bills are due. Gibson knows that she's not alone and hopes the state hears her plea for relief for money she says she's owed.

"Take care of us so we can take care of our families," said Gibson.

In the meantime, she and Hannah will keep the holiday spirit alive by passing out blessing bags to those who are less fortunate."That brightens up her day to make someone else's day, and that makes my mama heart happy too," said Gibson.