Unemployment payments made available through CARES Act money are scheduled to be sent to Kentuckians who qualify this week while nearly 90,000 people are still waiting to receive benefits from the state.
Kentucky will issue one-time $400 payments to roughly 25,000 people, many of them disqualified from getting a Lost Wages Assistance subsidy because they made too little.
Another 16,500 people will get $1,000. They applied for unemployment months ago and haven’t been paid yet.
Amy Cubbage, a lawyer with the Kentucky unemployment office who has become the state’s face for the labor cabinet in recent months, said people who need help with their claims can apply for a virtual appointment on the state’s career center website, (CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK) which is not on a prominent location, if at all, on the state’s COVID-19 resource website. The News Edge had to Google the web location to find a link for the signup page.
Once you get there, Cubbage says the appointments are done on an 18-day rolling schedule.
click to download audioShe said appointment hours are 8-12 and 1-3 each day. There are 16 staff members who will be handling 125 appointments per day. Cubbage said the system will allow people to keep track of their appointment times with reminders.
click to download audioThe state has paid out upwards of $5.4 billion to more than 600,000 Kentuckians during the pandemic. Cubbage said there are still over 90,000 people who have yet to have their claim processed since filing in March. She added 23,000 of those have no fraud or identity issues to hold up paying the claim.
click to download audioThe pandemic has exposed a state unemployment system that was not prepared to handle the large number of people that applied for help that led to a large backlog by the end of March.
The state set up an online system to avoid in-person spread of COVID-19 which has not lent the support necessary to people who are still waiting for their first payment.
In July, the state fired the person tasked with heading Kentucky’s unemployment agency. Muncie McNamara was hired despite having no experience in the unemployment field.
The state has also paid over $24 million to accounting firm Ernst and Young to help get rid of the backlog. When they were first hired in July, there were over 75,000 pending claims from March to June. As of last week, there are now over 90,000 pending claims.
Democrats, including Governor Andy Beshear, have pointed to the state closing 30 of the state’s 51 regional centers under former Governor Matt Bevin during a time of record unemployment as a reason for the slow pace in getting claims processed.
Republicans have countered that former Governor Steve Beshear, Andy’s father, was offered $90 million by the federal government to make improvements to the unemployment system’s computer infrastructure but turned down the money.
Gov. Andy Beshear said during his recent State of the Commonwealth address that his proposed budget would put funds back into Kentucky’s unemployment systems, including $47.5 million to upgrade technology.