Thousands of people still struggling to claim unemployment benefits across the Delaware Valley – CBS Philly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Playing the waiting game. Even though the rest of the state reopens, New Jersey unemployment offices remain closed. It’s a similar story in Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Now Garden State lawmakers are trying to change that as thousands still struggle to claim their benefits.
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As businesses and public spaces reopen, state unemployment offices remain closed, as they have been since the start of the pandemic, leaving some wondering if this is why so many calls go unanswered.
A brief glitch on Tuesday morning made the Pennsylvania unemployment hotline unavailable. This as the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry launched its new unemployment compensation system.
It replaces a 40-year-old system and should help streamline the filing of claims.
Like Delaware and New Jersey, in-person service centers remain closed.
“There is a population of us who have not received any benefits,” said Sandee Free, who is grappling with an unemployment claim.
Free, from Gloucester County, worked as an administrative assistant before the pandemic. In August 2020, she says her unemployment benefits suddenly stopped coming.
“The website can’t help everyone. They really have to talk to a person, ”she said.
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For the past 10 months, she has been trying to get in touch with someone from the New Jersey UI department.
“You always get the message you know: Due to the high volume, we can’t help you. Try again tomorrow, ”Free said.
The state’s website states, in part: “… Some people cannot communicate online or on the phone. We understand your anxiety and frustration, and we apologize for it. We are working diligently to serve all of our customers and ask for your patience. Please keep trying.
A new bill proposed this month in New Jersey calls for the immediate reopening of unemployment offices or one-stop career centers, citing the need to help resolve thousands of claims.
“When do they get back to work? They talk about everyone: “When do they get back to work? They don’t want to go to work because of the extension. But where are the people who work in the unemployment offices? said free.
As for Free, she has relied on her family, friends and savings – all of whom are pretty much depleted.
“They say be patient, well I think I was patient enough,” she said.
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Free once contacted someone by phone here in New Jersey. They told him his claim would be escalated, but that action could take eight weeks. It was exactly eight weeks ago.